New Music Review: 8/16/16 – Chainsmokers, Twenty-One Pilots, and Kungs

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This will be a recurring segment in which I review new singles WUHU picks up each week, except when I have basically nothing to say about them, which DOES happen sometimes. Believe it or not.

 

This week I am particularly inspired by the three songs we picked up. Three mellow yet groovy tracks that seem to reflect the feel of the end of summer. It’s still hot, we’re still spending time outside and enjoying the last of our vacations, but it’s a dose of back-to-reality for students and the rest of the world. And if you’re anything like me, you’re no longer pumped about summer and you’re ready for it to cool off some before doing any serious dancing. We ain’t quite to the Fall jams yet, but these are perfect late summer smooth tunes.

 

-The first is young phenom Ohio kids Twenty One Pilots’ latest single, “Heathens,” from the Suicide Squad soundtrack. Keep in mind this is a soundtrack that debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 despite the movie being critically panned. Twenty One Pilots excel at angst and they lay it on thick on every one of their tracks, this one is no exception. Most of their material is a bit too over-saturated with weak attempts at somber profundity for my tastes, but this one really hits me in just the right place. It’s a little less in-your-face and takes a dose of much-needed subtlety. Would definitely fit neatly in a film like Suicide Squad. 6/10

-Next up we have “This Girl,” a 2009 track by Australian soul trio Cookin’ On 3 Burners remixed by French DJ Kungs. Btw, in case you miss it in this shuffle of intercontinental names, the guest vocalist’s name is Kylie Auldist. An extremely tasteful remix, this song could’ve easily been swallowed alive by a more aggressive bass drop, and it narrowly avoids this with just a thick beat under the original track, speeds it up a bit, and leaves those sultry horns and lazy guitar plucks right where they belong. 7/10

-Finally we have New York DJ duo The Chainsmokers’ latest hot chart entry, “Closer” featuring Halsey. One of my very favorites WUHU has picked up in some time, I really love this one. Interestingly, this song marks the first time either of the Chainsmokers have sung on any of their songs, normally opting to leave all of the vocal duties to female guest vocalists. Andrew Taggart makes this a duet to delightful effect with an understated, hushed vocal delivery that shows he knows well his limitations. Conversely we have Halsey, to who’s ability and precision I can personally attest after seeing her perform at Bonnaroo, and she excels as expected on this single. However where this track really shines is it’s melancholy, almost Springsteen-esque lyrics (and that’s not a comparison I use lightly). Being about a chance encounter with a long since former lover, references to their shared experiences sprinkle the lyric and make it specific as well as relatable to millennials with name drops of Blink-182 and Range Rovers. Therein lies the beauty – the song evokes complex images of the two’s relationship with minimal lines. We learn that they traveled together, listened to the same music, and that she has some regrettable personality traits like driving a Range Rover she can’t afford (perhaps paid for by family) and that she stole a mattress from her roommate. A very bittersweet portrait of familiar physical affection with someone you have alternately loved and hated over time. Quite a tune for pop radio, all pasted over simple beats, electronic claps, and a triumphant synth chorus. This one belongs on any summer playlist. 8/10.

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