When it was looking like the Chainsmokers would never release a full-length album, sticking only to singles and EPs, I hoped for something more.
Last year, the duo, Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, had a string of hits from a pair of EPs, Bouquet and Collage, that were fresh, fun and showed that EDM can work well in mid-tempo. The 1-2-3 punch of Roses, Don’t Let Me Down and Closer deservingly made them one of the top names in pop music last year and in February, they announced their long-awaited full-length debut album Memories…Do Not Open was in the works.
My wish came true! Should I have been careful?
The first single off of that record, Paris, captures the same free-spirit escapism that made Closer nostalgia fodder. If it served as a preview for the album, it was something to look forward to.
Instead, it acts as Closer Part 2 and remains the best song on the album. Something Just Like This featuring Coldplay was quickly pushed as the second single and can be considered Roses Part 2 (or a second-rate A Sky Full Of Stars), albeit toned down.
The rest of Memories follows the trend: rushed, watered-down versions of what they’ve already released. The lack of range is heightened by Andrew’s vocals that work only sometimes. Closer was lightning in a bottle and assisted heavily by Halsey. Most everything since have been empty bottles. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the best songs are those that step out of their acquired norm, such as the upbeat boyband pop/rocker Break Up Every Night, and those using other vocalists – except the head-scratching Last Day Alive with Florida Georgia Line. Why?
Since dominating radio, the Chainsmokers have been an easy target, likely helped by their reputation for being cocky without having the receipts to back it up, but even Nickelback managed to sustain themselves beyond a single album and a handful of singles. They’re on the fast-track to becoming the next has-beens of pop music and this album does them no favours in avoiding that status. It’s rare that releasing an album does more harm than good for an artist. Memories…Do Not Open can serve as such an example. Too much of too little.
In hindsight, I miss when there was an element of mystique to the Chainsmokers.
1. The One
2. Break Up Every Night
4. Don’t Say [featuring Emily Warren]
5. Something Just Like This [featuring Coldplay]
6. My Type [featuring Emily Warren]
7. It Won’t Kill Ya [featuring Louane]
10. Wake Up Alone [featuring Jhené Aiko]
12. Last Day Alive [featuring Florida Georgia Line]