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Album Review: The Chainsmokers – Memories… Do Not Open

2 min read
Photo: Sony Music Australia

The warning “do not open” is certainly an evocative one. Does it exist to protect fragile contents from being disturbed? To protect the unwary and unprepared from peril? Does it betray something deeply intimate and sensitive inside; secrets that someone wishes to remain hidden? Prefix that warning with the word “memories”, and the imagination simply runs wild with the possibilities. In choosing to entitle their début record Memories… Do Not Open, Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall – together known as The Chainsmokers – clearly have some flair for the dramatic and engaging.

Unfortunately, the intrigue generated by the album’s title doesn’t carry through to the album itself, a collection of banal electronic-pop songs that are toe-tappingly forgettable. A slew of guest performers prove unable to breathe life into the album, at best managing to postpone the flat-line by a few minutes. Emily Warren makes an admirable effort on My Type, with her vocals working well on a song lamenting poor preferences in selecting romantic partners, however her efforts are wasted as the music is too light and thin to provide the force and impact the lyrics are searching for.

A glimmer of hope exists in It Won’t Kill Ya, featuring a good opening riff and a nice sense of musical tension that compliments the vocals of Louane, but ultimately The Chainsmokers’ can’t make up their minds about what they want to do musically, and the track falls apart. It’s a song that shows promise and is somewhat interesting for reasons other than nearly being a train wreck. Lead single, Paris, demonstrates that Taggart is a pretty average vocalist, with no real range to speak of, a fact that even the copious amounts of auto-tune on Honest can’t conceal.

Coldplay make an appearance on Something Just Like This, and they make a solid showing of their parts as one would expect from a group of their calibre, but their efforts fail to cover over the weak lyrics and insipid music. Why they chose to be involved with this track is a riddle worthy of the Sphinx. Memories… Do Not Open certainly isn’t the worst début album ever, there are a few too many good moments for that, but these moments don’t linger in memory either, making the entire 12 songs feel like the aural equivalent of confectionary.