When Memories are Forgettable…
Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, the duo behind The Chainsmokers, lift the lid on their box of youthful memorabilia for their debut studio album Memories…Do Not Open. Since their break-out hit “#Selfie” in 2014, the pair have produced multiple singles and two certified Gold and Platinum EPs, respectively. Their collaboration with pop newcomer Daya on “Don’t Let Me Down” earned them their first Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording at the 59th awards ceremony. Self-produced alongside DJ Swivel, much of Memories…Do Not Open is dedicated to their innermost thoughts of rising fame.
For an electronic duo, the album kicking off on an apologetic ballad is a surprise. “The One” is in part an apology to friends for the pair’s hectic schedule, while also covering the topic of moving on from a relationship. An upbeat transition into “Break Up Every Night” shows off the duo’s genre flexibility. Alt-rock listener’s ears will perk up with the lyrics, “She’s got seven personalities and every one’s a tragedy,” before being launched into the chorus. The pop beats are subtle, the production help from Captain Cuts leaving a stamp of indie approval. Despite the presence of additional producers KIN and Mac & Phil, we’re back to a piano and keyboard-led melody for “Bloodstream.” Credited as one of the song’s writers, Phoebe Ryan’s wispy backup vocals provide a glow to contrast the song’s heavier feelings toward fame. “Don’t Say” features Emily Warren; her deep alto carries through the verses, but she takes to her higher register for the song’s chorus. The light, breathy vocals over the thick keyboard and bass is a perfect blend.
Next, we’re refreshed with a collaboration from Coldplay. “Something Just Like This” was reportedly free-styled by Chris Martin in the studio. The band, known to dabble with a more electronic sound in recent years, steals this song from The Chainsmokers, as they’ve barely left a proprietary mark. Warren champions another track, “My Type,” about loving someone that isn’t good for her. The next song features Louane, who typically sings in French. Her vocal dips amid darker beats are the highlight of “It Won’t Kill Ya.” Jhene Aiko’s silky smooth vocals give The Chainsmokers a reason to transition genres again. The song has an abrupt slowdown, in a nod to hip-hop to wrap up the track. The harpsichord keyboard on “Young” creates a simple, yet catchy melody to carry the track. The vocal melody sounds like a continuation of “Closer” with only a slight variation. The concluding track is a mixture of salty and sweet. Florida Georgia Line belts the lyrics “last day alive” in signature gruff, contrasting the clear tenor “now or never, it’s now or never” that trails behind. The duo borrows the keyboard melody of “Young” in a different style, to offer separation between the two songs.
Memories…Do Not Open was surprisingly mellow for a duo that has been a powerhouse in the EDM genre. Unfortunately, they failed to be memorable – while many of the songs were catchy, they let their collaborators overpower the production. Unsurprisingly, Emily Warren, along with Kiiara, are the supporting acts for the Memories…Do Not Open tour that kicked off in April. Let’s hope it’s more memorable than the album.