The Chainsmokers, "Memories... Do Not Open" (Columbia)
The Chainsmokers wowed with their infectious single "Closer" and gave Coldplay a trendy EDM makeover on "Something Just Like This." But high hopes for a whole album by the DJ duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall have gone up in smoke.
This 12-track collection not only fails to break new ground, it spins its tires into a deep hole. The songs usually begin with slow, moody piano that builds into monster synth beats, interrupted by a period of calm. That's thrilling in a single dose. It's formulaic and tiresome on a full album.
The Chainsmokers are best when they let others sing, like Emily Warren on "Don't Say" and "Just My Type"; Jhene Aiko on "Wake Up Alone"; and the lovely Coldplay collaboration. (It turns out The Chainsmokers need Coldplay more than Coldplay needs them.)
Cynics might say this is just an attempt by a couple of musical hucksters — one approaching 30 and the other on the other side of that milestone — to appeal to teens with easily digestible, morose dance songs punctuated with expletives that give it an appearance of honesty. How else to explain lyrics that deal with cutting class, endlessly hooking up and drinking too much? "It's hard when you're young," goes one song. So hard.
Standing still like this in EDM — like standing still in a club, for that matter — is a dangerous proposition. Other DJs are creating thrilling stuff — Calvin Harris' "Slide" or Zedd's "Stay" — so to hear The Chainsmokers blowing the same old smoke is a real disappointment.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits