“Closer” Track Review
Released July 29, 2016
Let’s get one thing straight: I loathe EDM, and (objectively) The Chainsmokers are the epitome of everything I hate about this god-forsaken genre: cheap hooks, half-assed lyrics, soulless instrumentation, pandering to wide audiences, and the need for ridiculously annoying synth hooks blown up over a ‘drop’. That, plus the culture’s moronic, indulgent, & insipid drug/concert atmosphere, defines the soulless and useless musical wave that is known as EDM. Yet, The Chainsmokers have been doing something different; they glimpsed it on “Don’t Let Me Down” with its shockingly depressing and melancholic lyrics combined with its (seemingly) joyful instrumentation, the track is rather joyless and goes against the cheap thrills of traditional EDM music. In practice, and theory, it’s more interesting than I wish it was.
With “Closer”, The Chainsmokers create something strange: a genuinely evocative and enjoyable electropop tune, abandoning the EDM construction/framework that has gotten them this far (beginning with the culturally relevant yet painfully TERRIBLE “Kanye” & “#Selfie”). The Chainsmokers use all the instrumentation they need – no need for superfluous whistles & bells (even if they elevate the song to a total groove machine à la Jack Ü’s debut). Combined with pop singer Halsey’s lush and sensual vocals, The Chainsmokers create a lean & tightly composed track that you can bump in the club, or when lying in bed daydreaming.
The instrumentation is basic in practice with the usual snaps, claps, electronic kit, etc. + the waves of synths, and a wonky ass synth lead to complement an orechstra-esque synth chord progression. It all culminates in a sugary sweet, but dangerously addictive track that I can’t help but repeat. Although the vocals are lazy, and cover much of the same ground of love, longing, wanderlust, youth, and escape that EVERYONE covers (yes. EVERYONE. jesus, PLEASE sing about something different) – the delivery keeps it interesting enough to listen to again and again.
Now I’m not saying I’ve warmed up to EDM music or the culture, because I don’t think I ever will. But when you have the right elements, and use them tastefully; when you don’t underwhelm nor do you become indulgent, or pander to audiences – you can create a great pop song, one that isn’t as cheap as its predecessors indicate. The Chainsmokers surprised me here, and that’s impressive to say the least.