[ELECTRONIC/POP] The Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan – “All We Know”
When The Chainsmokers burst onto the scene in 2014 with their novelty hit “Selfie”, I was pretty sure that I would never hear from them again. Yes, I got the joke and I didn’t mind hearing the song at parties, but I never expected anything serious from a group with a name like The Chainsmokers! So I was a bit surprised to hear them resurface on pop radio a year and a half later with their hit “Roses” and even more surprised to find that it was actually pretty decent.
Fast forward to 2016 and I’m a total fan. “Don’t Let Me Down” became a song I never grew tired of hearing, even throughout the summer, after it was well overplayed on the radio and its place in pop music history was forever sealed due to critical and commercial success. “Closer” became an instant hit upon its release not only on the charts (giving the duo their first number one in the US), but also on my Summer 2016 Spotify playlist. Add the MTV Video Music Awards performance where Halsey looked absolutely stunning and along with the rest of America, I went goo-goo-gaga for the duo I initially almost completely dismissed.
We’ve passed the end, so we chase forever
‘Cause this is all we know
This feeling’s all we know
This brings me to their current release, “All We Know”. Featuring the vocals of currently hot, up-and-coming singer Phoebe Ryan, whom I was already familiar with from her work with The Knocks, along with the band’s own Andrew Taggart, in their own words, “It’s about the hardships of relationships but never giving up on your ride or die.” So basically it’s a song about beating a dead horse; something I know a thing or two about whether relating to an interpersonal relationship or a bad habit. Unfortunately, beating a dead horse takes on a bit more meaning when it comes to this track than I’d like it to.
For starters, the similarities to “Closer”, whether deliberate or not, are undeniable. I can’t help but give the guys some credit for wanting to create a distinct sound or further distance themselves from the EDM craze of few years ago, but the title of the song shouldn’t be a synonym for lack of sonic creativity. There also isn’t much going on here, vocally or lyrically. The subtle electronica doesn’t hurt the song’s overall feel and theme, but it’s also not very exciting. When I first heard the track, I was expecting something a little more grand or at least something that screamed “next level.” The bar for a “Closer” follow up has been set pretty high, not just by the duo’s success but also by the quality of previous releases. Creating something so strinkingly similar to its predecessor was not what I was hoping for, even if the world doesn’t care and the song will be a top ten hit, regardless.
But it’s not all bad. The choice of Phoebe Ryan as a vocalist was spot on. Her soft vocals shimmer throughout the entire composition and compliment the mood and subject matter, pretty perfectly. The production, although a bit underwhelming, is also on point (but when has it not been?) and perhaps, is an attempt to establish a more characteristic sound.
Regardless of all that, however, this release will not hurt The Chainsmokers brand. They will go on and will release more amazing tracks to come. The act is relatively still young, and judging by their track record, they are only getting started. Surely, this isn’t all that we will know of The Chainsmokers.