Originally published in The Edge
What ‘#SELFIE’ did to promote The Chainsmokers across the globe, it counteracted by ruthlessly haemorrhaging their credibility. Before, they were merely two dudes – Alex Pall and Drew Taggart – making bad jokes in the SoundCloud descriptions of tender (and thoroughly enjoyable) amplifications of tracks by alt-indie luminaries like Jónsi, Phoenix, and The Killers. Then, one gimmicky pissabout signed by Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak label later, they had a string of club dates and festival appearances, a hilariously dreadful American Idol performance, and millions of new listeners who looked forward to their next move much as they did with DJ Ötzi and the Crazy Frog. Somehow, having resettled themselves with an official mix for Bastille, they began again, building up to 2015’s original EP Bouquet and global chart residency over the twelve months that followed.
Collage follows its lead by regularly sounding deflated when poised to erupt, with ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ proving an exception by leaping from pleading guitar to disconcertingly intoxicated trap with no warning. ‘Closer,’ which features belated authorship notes for The Fray, and ‘All We Know’ pedal additional underwhelm by letting Taggart – the one with the writing credits, closer shave, and ability to give mediocre vocalists everywhere hope that they too can sing on a triple-platinum single – duet with the EP’s cast of similarly pleasant and interchangeable female voices.
Where my frustration primarily lies is that many components of good music are here: the emotion, channelled (perhaps too liberally) from their indie-pop admiration; the melodies and production, which promise so much before dropping to so little; the personality, now beginning to seep into their music as well as their Twitter feuds. Yet, for every anguished, fire-bating cry from XYLØ’s Paige Duddy at the opening, there’s a glaring moment of sonic or lyrical inconsistency to follow over the course of the scrappy quintet.
Out now via Disruptor