Critical Disapproval: The Chainsmokers, ‘Memories…Do Not Open’
The critical results are in. Critics highly disapprove of ‘Memories…Do Not Open’, the debut album courtesy of Grammy-winning duo, The Chainsmokers.
The Chainsmokers released their highly-anticipated debut album, Memories…Do Not Open on April 7, 2017. Surprisingly, within the first week, the reviews from the professionals – aka those outlets who are included within the Metacritic aggregate – the reviews were scant. Now, after Memories has had its time to earn professional listeners, the reviews are in. To quote awesome YouTube music Anthony Fantano (aka theneedledrop), the reviews, rather the album, is “NOT GOOD.”
EW, NY Times, Rolling Stone & The Observer
Focusing on the Metacritic reviews, as of publication date, with seven critical reviews, Memories…Do Not Open received a tepid score of 43. To quote Kendrick Lamar, DAMN. Entertainment Weekly bestowed the duo with the highest score, an incredible 58. According to EW, aside from “Break Up Every Night,” reviewer Barry Walters writes:
“The other cuts are basically ballads with beats – modernized Moby without the soul-searching or gospel samples.”
EW awarded it a C+.
Beyond EW, Slant, Pitchfork, The Observer (UK), Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Spin also spun The Chainsmokers’ debut. All were less enthused than Walters and EW. The lowest score came from Spin – a 30. The Metacritic excerpt cited:
“Whether the album’s title is a plea or warning does not matter, as the effect is the same: The Chainsmokers have one song, and if you don’t want to hear 12 versions of it, please do not un-click the latch holding the box closed.”
“For the most part songs plod along at a strenuously mid-tempo pace, and are mostly lacking in any sonic detail that would reward closer listening.”
Arguably the worst criticism comes from The Observer – depending upon who you voted for:
“This is Trump-pop: shallow, always betraying its influences, with a third-grade vocabulary…”
Fantano reviewed Memories…Do Not Open himself. He didn’t even dignify the project with a score. He called it like he saw it: “NOT GOOD.” What was his gripe about it? “Romantic melodrama.” Essentially, Fantano stated that The Chainsmokers didn’t give their fan base, teens, enough credit.
“The thing is though, I feel like I have a higher opinion of The Chainsmokers’ audience than The Chainsmokers do. Because I think teenagers deserve music that engages them on a maturity level that they are capable of functioning on.”
It’s a fair point. He cites “Break Up Every Night” as an example, citing its lyrics essentially as selling the fan base short intellectually.
Besides Fantano, other YouTube critics also put their two cents in, criticizing Memories. ARTV (Album Review TV), a non-fan of the duo, gave the album a 1/5, citing “Break Up Every Night” among his least faves. He did cite three favorite tracks: “Something Just Like This,” “It Won’t Kill Ya,” and “Paris.”
“For [his] 739th review”, Canadian music critic Spectrum Pulse reviewed Memories, giving it a stellar 4/10 – OUCH. Always verbose, Mark Grondin spends nearly 11 minutes ranting, but summarizes his feelings at around the three-minute mark: “In case you can’t tell, I didn’t enjoy this.” It should be noted, Grondin isn’t the least bit enthusiastic about “Break Up Every Night.” In his written review, he asserts:
“And when you get songs like ‘Break Up Every Night’, where the girl is so crazy she breaks up and then ‘fucks him back to life’ and he’s just enjoying the ride – it’s implying a lack of emotional intelligence in these women that just feels fundamentally dishonest in its framing, and an awful sort of wish fulfillment at that.”
The Musical Hype was kinder to The Chainsmokers – arguably too kind. Initially, Memories…Do Not Open was given a 3 ½ star review, that has since been amended to 3 stars. As for “Break Up Every Night,” it is a shallow song that lacks transcendence, particularly given the fact that The Chainsmokers equate it to their version of indie rock. It’s not as deep as they suggest but, contextually, it’s one of the more enjoyable, energetic songs, which counts for something. Ultimately though, Memories…Do Not Open doesn’t look like it will be remembered for its greatness in the least.
Photo Credit: Columbia