‘Memories ... Do Not Open’ is diary of mistakes, alcoholism

The Chainsmokers trade dance tracks for emotional ballads

aechainsmokerscourtesywikimediacommons

"Memories … Do Not Open" is a mature departure from The Chainsmoker's previous releases.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Since the success of The Chainsmokers’ single “Roses” back in 2015, fans have eagerly awaited the release of a full-length album. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart — the duo behind hits like “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down” — have spent the past two years dropping singles and EPs. However, the wait is now over. “Memories … Do Not Open” is the group’s first full-length record, with only three previously released singles on the tracklist.

The rest of “Memories … Do Not Open” is filled with The Chainsmokers’ mainstream electronic style, much like their earlier releases. However, the lyricism and instrumentation of these songs are somewhat darker and more mature — the duo strays from the popular mechanisms of its top singles and migrates into more subdued and serious territory. The jolting drops in songs like “Closer” transform into subtle rhythmic rises and give the listener something different throughout “Memories … Do Not Open.”

The album’s opening track,“The One,” somberly sets the tone for the entire setlist through its realistic lyrics about mistakes and coming to terms with imperfection. Taggart sings about losing interest in a relationship and watching love deteriorate through lines like, “Down and down we go / We’ll torch this place we know / Before one of us takes the chance and breaks this / I won’t be the one.”

“The One” is slow and dour for an opening track, with simple piano patterns and electric guitar riffs leading up to an understated drop that contains a melodic mixture of synth sounds. Similar songs like “Bloodstream” and “Don’t Say” speak on the subjects of damaging relationships through drinking and poor communication.

The Chainsmokers bring in plenty of extra voices to tell their stories, ranging from up-and-coming artist Emily Warren to internationally-known bands like Coldplay and Florida Georgia Line. The collaborations between artists add intrigue and keep the traditional style of the duo alive. However, Taggart and Pall embrace their own musical talents by providing songs only featuring Taggart’s voice. In this way, the duo begins to showcase not only its skills as DJs and musical creators, but also as singers and songwriters.

While most of the tracks are solemn, songs such as “Something Just Like This” and “Break Up Every Night” give listeners a taste of those bangers the group released earlier in their career. “Break Up Every Night” is a classic Chainsmokers’ dance track — booming with pounding bass, EDM synths and pulsing keyboard parts. However, the song’s disturbing lyrics such as “She wants to break up every night / Then tries to f—k me back to life” don’t match its sound. Mixing these lyrics with the pulsing, catchy instrumentation and melody adds a powerful juxtaposition and musical dynamic in the record.

The Chainsmokers successfully make more realistic and somber music in “Memories … Do Not Open.” While the album somewhat lacks the powerful dance tracks seen in the duo’s previous releases, a newfound approach to lyrics and mature instrumentation provides an interesting twist and image. 

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