Superstar duo fail to repeat their early success on highly anticipated debut.
New York based DJ duo The Chainsmokers have been one of the most hotly tipped artists of the last few years with hits Closer and Roses showing how upbeat dance tracks have the capability of retaining intimacy and resonating with each and every one of the duo’s listeners. Vocalist Andrew Taggart and instrumentalist Alex Pall finally released their debut album this week, one that has been highly anticipated for months.
Before the album was released, the band were known for their intimate yet upbeat portrayal of love, change and fame and these are themes that are still easy to see running through the album. Honest sees the duo recalling life on the road and the battle with retaining relationships and dismissing temptation from elsewhere. Line “And I don’t even like the road, I’m just on the radio” shows how fame has pushed the duo to a completely different life, one that can be seen through track Wake Up Alone which features R&B singer Jhene Aiko. The track’s an electro-pop ballad that talks of superficiality and materialism within the lives of the duo and those that are around them when in reality, all the band want are people who respect them for their personality and not their fame.
Whilst fame remains a big subject for the band, it’s the intimate recollections of the past that create the more touching songs on the album. Youth is a remembrance of a teenage relationship and the moments shared and eventual break up. The chorus sees Taggart trying to deal with growing up in a world where things move so quickly and the track as a whole with its acoustic guitar and thumping bass chorus is wonderful. Opener and first single The One, a ballad about selfishness and neglect within a relationship see lines “I won’t make it to your party / Got caught up in my own selfishness / It won’t let me be a part of this” showing the effect that getting the wrong balance between a relationship and other things has on the relationship. It’s a track of honesty and it’s delicate piano is a great reflection for the band. Paris takes listeners on a journey through a relationship that faces hardships but come through them whilst Something Just Like This, the duo’s collaboration with Coldplay, supports ordinary love an rejecting the notion of superhuman and perfect love. Together with Paris, the two tracks are without doubt the standout moments on the album.
Unfortunately for the duo, there are moments which seem to disengage listeners. My Type seems like a generic dance track with synths that don’t make an effect on the track. The track never really gets moving and seems more of an album filler than something in its own right. Bloodstream’s mellow piano base layer and copious swearing make the track seem too forced whilst the ode to fans, Last Day Alive, sounds too similar to previous tracks that it fails to stand out.
Luckily for the duo there are some pleasant surprises hidden throughout the album. Don’t Say ignores the standard upbeat electro-pop chorus and opts for a more deeper and dirtier drop whilst Break Up Every Night sees the due moving into electro punk territory with a strong build before dropping into a fast tempo rock styled groove that culminates into an electro rock frenzy that one can only describes as Imagine Dragons on MDMA.
The album does pull together the quality areas of the duo, with their down to earth, upbeat dance tracks containing lyrics that all can relate to but the album never seems to gain the excitement of the duo’s early EP’s. There are some nice touches but it never seems to live up to its hype.