The recently released debut album of the Chainsmokers, “Memories…Do Not Open,” wasn’t particularly memorable, but that hasn’t stopped the album from already hitting number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts after being released for one month.
The 12-song album by the EDM-pop duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall rewards dedicated fans with their classic soft electronic sound paired with simple lyrics and catchy choruses.
However, the album brought nothing new to the table, as it lacked a unique sound and instead just resembled some of their past songs like “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down” through their synthesized beat drops that break the melodic hooks.
Leading up to the release of the full album, they dropped three singles that quickly rose to the top of the charts. The most popular and arguably the best song on the album, “Something Just Like This” hit number three on Billboard’s Singles charts, a very notable placement.
The success of these singles generated a great deal of buzz, played nonstop on the radio, and flashed promise that there were new cutting edge sounds to come with their first album.
The failure of the album to live up to its anticipated greatness made the album as a whole seem as if it missed the mark. The album lacked variety and some songs appeared to be choppy. Most of the songs consisted of very oversimplified lyrics.
The Chainsmokers’ signature upbeat electronic melodies were woven into all of the songs and contrasted with smooth piano and guitar chords. The duo played with the build up of riffs, integration of calm pauses and a more conversational style.
At first, all of the songs seemed to blend together into one long ballad, but after listening to every song individually, a subtle unique rhythm and melody can slowly be distinguished from each one. The album as a whole is repetitive and tedious, but each song individually is able to hold its own.
Taggart and Paul took a step back from their usual chaotic trap beat drops, and approached the album with simple instrumental drops that resembled a more rock and alternative style. The voice of the songs appear to be nonchalant, parallel to a teenager’s casual speaking tone.
“You know, I’m sorry. I won’t make it to your party, got caught up in my own selfishness,” Taggart sings, but almost sounds as if he is having a normal conversation, with his voice lacking tone in the beginning of “The One.” Throughout the song he sounds as if he is speaking to a girl, telling her how the signs that they should break up are undeniably obvious, but he won’t be the one to end the relationship.
At the beginning and end of songs such as “Honest” and “Don’t Say” are sound strips of themselves talking or conversations in the studio. These clips display more of their own casual and fun side through the dialogues, but felt pointless to me and often I found myself skipping through.
Most of the songs are written about the ups and downs of young relationships, and the mishaps of being a teenager. Although the rhythm is upbeat, the lyrics speak to teens as they often talk about struggles and the negatives of love through blunt lyrics that display slight attitude and pettiness.
“And there’s this girl, she wants me to take her home. She don’t really love me though, I’m just on the radio,” sings Taggart in “Honest.”
In “My Type” featuring Emily Warren, the lyrics tell the story of a pair of lovers that struggle to connect with each other but their emotions towards each other are uncontrollable. The story follows the couple through the hardships and emotional rollercoaster of love. This album is largely targeted to teens as most of their songs are about young dilemmas. Living in a society where the hookup
culture is at an all time high, young girls could relate to the Warren’s reluctance to break it off with a guy because something about the guy attracts her.
This album also centered Taggart as the lead vocalist. Prior, Taggart had only started to sing in their hit singles “Closer” and “Paris,” but his voice now dominates the majority of the album.
The impressive list of guest vocalists, including Emily Warren, Jhené Aiko, Florida Georgia Line, Louane and Coldplay, helps bring variety and range to the album.
Emily Warren’s fluid vocals dominate “Don’t Say” and “My Type,” and balance out Taggarts in background vocals for “Paris” and “The One.” Warren’s expressive, sincere voice, backed by an electric tempo, makes “My Type” and “Don’t Say” two of the best songs on the album.
Jhené Aiko leads in “Wake Up Alone,” a song about how it’s hard to find real love once you’re famous. It has deep undertone pulse that keeps a steady beat leading into a candid picture of what Aiko’s life is like now that she’s famous, which leads to brief pause before a deep horn takes over. The chorus is simple, consisting of only three words: “Wake up alone.”
This is just one of many of their songs that have oversimplified lyrics. Their lyrics seem juvenile because of how basic they are, which is why this album caters to a younger audience. It depends how much a catchy chorus speaks to you, but a phrase can only be repeated so many times until it becomes excessive. In “Last Day Alive” this title as well as the phrase “Now or never” are each repeated over ten times each through the three minutes and 34 seconds.
“Last Day Alive” mixes Florida Georgia Line’s usual country style with the Chainsmokers modern dance music. The two duos created a vibey song that that mixed the strong percussions and instrumentals of a country style sound with strong vocals.
The most popular song on the album is the collab with Coldplay in “Something Just like This.” Coldplay is known for their alternative and rock music, and before I heard the song I was unsure how they would combine their style with the Chainsmokers. But after listening to it, the bands combined the two mediums into a hybrid alternative, electronic song that blended perfectly turning into a magnificent collab.
Overall, I enjoyed listening to each song as the Chainsmokers didn’t fail to provide a catchy soundtrack that continued to demonstrate their musical talents. But for their debut album, they failed to translate the success of some of their singles into their full album.