It’s hard to believe that The Chainsmokers that put out Sick Boy in 2018 are the same duo that put out Memories… Do Not Open in 2017. (For reference, my review of that album here.) From the production, to Drew’s vocals, to the lyricism and songwriting, everything feels more refined and sincere.
MDNO felt ridiculously rushed and amateurish, playing into The Chainsmokers’ frat boy persona and putting out stereotypical songs about love and relationships without any real personality or insight. In contrast, many of the songs on Sick Boy are deep (relative to their past songs) and introspective, “Sick Boy,” “Everybody Hates Me,” and “You Owe Me” in particular.
Then on the other hand, Sick Boy actually has some bangers. “Siren” with Aazar and “Save Yourself” with NGHTMRE are massive collaborations with huge drops made for The Chainsmokers’ explosive live shows; however, as the two token bangers on the album, they also sound out of place. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
All of this isn’t to say that Sick Boy doesn’t have its issues, either. The drop on “You Owe Me” is still hard to listen to, and “Beach House” still isn’t a strong song. In addition, the rollout of the album, while it may have been effective in sharing the concept and racking up streaming numbers, resulted in an expected track order. When the full album was completed with the release of “Hope” today, the order was rearranged and it now sounds like a much different album than what fans have been listening to for nearly all of 2018. No matter if you end up thinking the order works better or not, it’s going to take some time to get used to.
And ending on such a huge banger like “Save Yourself” doesn’t really give listeners a chance to decompress from the listening experience, either.
Overall, Sick Boy is as much an improvement over MDNO as you could hope for. I actually know the words and sing along to the majority of the songs on this album, as opposed to those on MDNO, which I prayed would end sooner than later. And the more introspective songs on the album are actually rock solid on their own merit.
While this album is a massive step in the right direction, it still seems that The Chainsmokers are a little lost on their own sound. Drew is definitely exhibiting his own identity with his singing, but with so wide a variety of tracks and influences on Sick Boy, I hope they hone in a bit more on a central sound in 2019. That doesn’t mean that bangers like “Siren” and “Save Yourself” wouldn’t be welcome, but maybe they wouldn’t belong on their next album.
Listen to Sick Boy, the new album from The Chainsmokers, below.