Do what the album title says, and do not open.
Release date: 07/04/2017
Electronic music duo The Chainsmokers burst onto the scene last year with some Billboard Hot 100 puncturing hits like Closer featuring Halsey and Don't Let Me Down featuring Daya. Not to forget, back in early 2014 the duo also made #SELFIE, which was one of the most borderline insulting electronic records ever made. Since then, they have been launched and erupted into a swirl of fame and commercial success, and a few more breakout hits away from becoming a household name. Last week, Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall released their debut album, Memories...Do Not Open and today, I'm going to talk about it. Or, if I may, I would rather not.
Firstly, if you are not a fan of The Chainsmokers or only have the slightest of inklings to listen to any of their tracks, then you should go ahead and skip this record. Do what the album title tells you to, and stay away. Go, now. Don't come back. Don't come back with a ten-foot pole, or a fifteen-inch stick. Don't listen to this because there is no doubt in anyone's mind that it will ever turn heads for anyone that was not a fan of them before. If you've listened to the album, and was a long fan prior to the release of #SELFIE (the Kanye days), then I'm terribly sorry. You have been betrayed.
Let's get out what this album does great, because honestly I can count them all on one hand. The production is decent, mainly because their arrangements of forlorn piano introductions and the 'swell' of the guitars actually build up to some momentum and crescendo in the tracks. The features are great (well...): Chris Martin shines on Something Just Like This (which incidentally turned out to be one of the better songs on the album due to his charm and persona that he performed), Jhene Aiko provides great balance in Wake Up Alone, Louane plays fine in the production disaster of It Won't Kill Ya, the Emily Warren tracks are decent (she appears in all four, credited on two, and probably only work on Paris and My Type. Last Day Alive is terrible, and it features Florida Georgia Line -- and God knows why they're here. All in all, the guests are fine, they aren't the problem here. So, you want to know what is?
When an electronic dance album fails to make my feet sway and tap, it has failed. And The Chainsmokers' Memories... is a complete and utter failure. I will admit that Closer scratches an emotional itch that swings into more familiar territory with love, growing apart and growing older, and Roses featuring Rozes is probably the best track from their discography (apart from some of their better remixes such as Real Love from Clean Bandit), and these songs aren't terrible. They have memorable synth-driven hooks, a capable singer (or at least someone who has the capabilities to sing), but most importantly don't sound pretentious. There's a clear line between silly and fun, hardcore and messy layers of bass and beats, and driving with a clear agenda. In fact, it is pretty clear here. The Chainsmokers have decided to take the route - the easier one, no doubt - and produce a paint-by-numbers, generic pop-electronic-dance album with no flavours, no flares, no semblance of effort (bar a few), and absolutely being wasteful with creative expression.
Andrew Taggart can't sing, I'm sorry. I don't know what he's doing here on the first three tracks, but the last time I tore my hair out in that short amount of time listening to an album was Meghan Trainor's Thank You and that was horrifically garbage. It doesn't help when the lyrical content he has to deal with, the supposed 'past', are a bunch of lines strung together that don't work, but he has to deliver them anyway.
Break Up Every Night shows off our indie rock roots more than any other song on the album... We worked with our good friends Captain Cuts with the goal of writing a record that was upbeat and alternative but kept the roots of our sound. We often write about moments of tension in relationships and this is a really fun take on that concept. We vent about that girl who we're stuck on but is driving us crazy. We've dated people like this in the past but have also been the crazy one on the other side which made this song super fun.
Break Up Every Night is easily the worst song on this album, and one of the worst songs I have heard all year. It's not fun. It's not upbeat. It's stupid. There is no way anybody can redeem this song. Atrocious drum beats, teeth-grinding vocals, offensive lyrics -- this song is ripe for dissection by music critics. Even by The Chainsmokers' standards, it doesn't make sense. At all. None. By the end of Bloodstream in which Andrew Taggart doesn't even reveal what he says and what he means by 'he meant it', the formula is already perfectly drawn out in front of your eyes. How the tracks are so painfully similar in every way just simply shows how much care (or lack of it) that the duo actually has to produce anything. And that was only at the end of the third track.
The rest of the album deals with fame and unwanted material, such as the 'talking' that appears before Honest, and their proprietary need to remind the listener that they are on the radio every verse, and then the chorus is a bunch of words scribbled down and placed somewhere. Oh and Andrew Taggart still can't seem to punch anywhere above his vocal range, and this is the part of the album where the duo - or Taggart himself - should have realised it wasn't working and found someone else. I understand that this album is supposedly tied to their memories, and their past, but if it means making an enjoyable album first and not make the listener suffer, I'd take the former.
The Chainsmokers have made an album that would embarrass any listener that got caught streaming it like a thief stealing cheddar instead of cash. Memories...Do Not Open is an abomination of an album. The only thing that stands out are the guest features that appear on stink-filled tracks, mindless droning of vapid beat drops and a pattern so familiar that you've memorised before you've even listened to this album. The laundry list of problems goes on, and until then, you're better off heeding the advice that the album title states.
Favourite Tracks: Something Just Like This
Least Favourite Tracks: Everything else
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.