Release Date: Apr 7, 2017
Record label: Sony Music
The first thing you may notice about the Chainsmokers' full-length Memories…Do Not Open is how instantly familiar it already seems. That's a striking quality for a debut album. Of course, the lead singles “Paris” and “Something Just Like This,” featuring Coldplay, have been all over radio the past few months, and so have the NYC duo's previous monster smashes like “Closer” and “Don't Let Me Down.
The Chainsmokers's breakout single, 2014's “#Selfie,” was a proud piss take on EDM's last dying gasp and social media culture, a recipe for one-hit wonderdom on the scale of “Whoomp! (There It Is)” and “Laffy Taffy. ” But Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall quickly reinvented themselves, at least in the minds of the public, with a pair of electro-infused contemporary-pop EPs, complemented by a release strategy that harkens back to the days when artists released multiple test singles before ever dropping an LP (the duo has already racked up five Top 10 hits). The downside to the wild success of that approach is that Taggart and Pall have been forced to discover their creative voices in front of the whole world.
Commercial EDM thrives on triumph, each one greater than the last, and the Chainsmokers have a bootstrap story as big as any in the game. When Drew Taggart and Alex Pall released " #SELFIE " in December 2013, they were relative nobodies trying to make a dent on the EDM scene. A month later, Steve Aoki's Dim Mak label picked up the single--a novelty song about social media that suggested women are somehow more vain and annoying than men--and things started happening for the duo.
Memories: Do Not Open, the debut full-length from EDM-lite duo the Chainsmokers, is a calculated dose of millennial escapism that peddles the same sounds as their far more engaging EP work. Following Bouquet and Collage -- home to their megahits "Closer" and "Don't Let Me Down" -- Memories serves as evidence that the Chainsmokers might be better equipped for shorter releases. Even with the help of producer DJ Swivel and guests like Emily Warren, Phoebe Ryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds, Memories is just not that memorable.
Last year, the duo of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart - known, collectively, as the Chainsmokers - were the ruling bro kings of pop. After breaking through in the early 2010s with the smirking novelty banger "#SELFIE," they chilled out and looked inward, to great reward. The makeup-sex prelude "Closer" spent 12 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and became 2016's most defining song, establishing the commercial potential of EDM's soft "future bass" sound and utilizing Tumblr alt-pop upstart Halsey.
I f the Chainsmokers know anything, it's that no one ever died from hearing a chorus too often. It's why the American duo were the only bulwark against an all-Sheeran UK top 10 last month. This debut doesn't dare vary their formula: instantly memorable yet completely forgettable music, with all the personality and passion of an invoice. The female singers all sound like a Sia guide vocal for Rihanna; the men mostly simper shallow emo-EDM cliches about failing relationships.
It isn't exactly Dylan going electric, as far as career reinventions go, but a small sliver of pop music history is currently being infiltrated by a group that quietly but successfully underwent a makeover for the ages. In 2014, when the Chainsmokers made themselves known to the world with the hashtagged “#Selfie,” they seemed like the spiritual successors to LMFAO that nobody really asked for--two largely interchangeable goofballs poking fun at our modern lives with all the subtlety of the duck face. If you can look past its casual misogyny, “#Selfie” at least nails the details, but its portrayal of vapid clubgoing women was done much better two years prior when Paris Hilton parodied her own lobotomized persona on the brilliant but forgotten spoken-word house single “Drunk Text.