The Chainsmokers dropped their fourth studio album, “So Far So Good,” on May 13, and while it contained some positive attributes, the album disappointed. It lacked creativity, and even the album title itself suggests a certain degree of complacency in its creation.
The Chainsmokers come to the verge of novelty, but never make the leap. Every track is set to an aggressively four/four time signature. Granted, this is the most common and easiest time signature to work with, but some syncopation, some rhythmic playfulness, something new, please!
The single “Riptide” is one such missed opportunity. The track’s title invites creative production, so the song should sound like a riptide, like it’s pulling the listener out to sea. We should feel the ebb and flow of the rhythm — and it’s almost there at the beat drop — but it’s more of a splash in the kiddy pool than a powerful heave of the ocean.
Another example of squandered potential is “iPad,” in which the lyrical utilization of the beat is so poor, it leaves the song fragmented and completely unsatisfactory. The pre-chorus exemplifies this fragmentation. The line “Isn’t it strange how we’re strangers again?” is sung completely out of the blue and the word “strangers” should have been held for two more beats. It’s just clunky and sounds like the product of minimal effort.
The title “iPad” also makes me picture a grown up “iPad kid” swiping dirty fingers across a bubbled-up screen protector — an unfortunate image, at best.
Moving right along, the second track “High” sounds like a wannabe Machine Gun Kelly song right at the beginning, then transforms to a direct rip-off of the Arctic Monkeys’ “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”
It’s clear that The Chainsmokers made some attempt at originality with the beat change at 2:37, but unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to salvage the song. This addition feels entirely incongruous in context, and the song would be better without it.
The same incongruity appears in “Testing,” where The Chainsmokers plop a random breakdown in the middle of a song that is completely unnecessary. When the track reverts to its original musical motifs, this unwanted intermission between 1:21 and 2:02 spoils whatever merit the song had remaining — and there was some merit!
The Chainsmokers allude to the well-known theme from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” which goes “come with me and you’ll see a world of pure imagination.” This reference has grown in popularity over the last couple years, and it usually doesn’t miss.
Regretfully for The Chainsmokers, this album falls short of “a world of pure imagination.” In fact, it sounded like there was little to no imagination involved in the creation of these songs. They’re almost indistinguishable from each other in lyrical theme, rhythm, and sound, especially “I Love U” and “I Hope You Change Your Mind,” which are just store brand versions of their previous hits.
You might be wondering, “Where’s the Halsey collab?” This is yet another missing piece on the album. The eleventh track “In Too Deep” does feature a female voice and refreshingly tender lyrics, making my inner “Closer” fan scream “Give Halsey a verse!”
Despite these shortcomings, one song prevents the album from being a total let down. “Cyanide,” the final track on the album, incorporates interesting lyrical symbolism and a relatively decent beat. I actually like (surprise!) the use of cyanide poison to describe the toxicity of the relationship described in the song.
Essentially, “So Far So Good” is a blatant attempt to ride on the coattails of “Closer,” “Paris” and “Something Just Like This” which were admittedly good, catchy songs. This album however, sounds like they just needed to drop content and this was all they had.
Chainsmokers, we expect more from you — we expect a summer banger to blast as we drive with the windows down. We expect to daydream and sing along.
In 2016, they said “Don’t Let Me Down,” but frankly, that’s exactly what they’ve done to us.
Check out “So Far So Good” on Spotify.