Article | Onlythebeat

'All We Know' and Some Thoughts On The Chainsmokers

Saturday, October 01, 2016
Erik Skoog

I get sent a lot of music as part of this job. A lot of it is okay. I'm generally easy to please, so there's a good chance I'll like whatever ends up in my inbox, but that's usually about as far as it goes. Ultimately most of it's fine, some of it is bad, but it's much less common for me to really connect with a song and get fired up about it. 'All We Know' is the hundred and seventh release from The Chainsmokers, or at least that's what it seems like. I don't mean that in a bad way. I'm thrilled to see these guys everywhere I turn, as I've been pretty insistent about how much I like The Chainsmokers. Alex and Drew have mastered their on and off stage presence, have an incredible relationship with their fans, and I really respect their effort to pave a future of the scene. They have long passed the days of '#selfie' (which was a joke you guys, get over yourselves), and have made it clear what their direction they're heading; something they've been working on since 'Roses' if not earlier, during their early indie remix days. And with each release, each number one, each step they've taken to prove they are anything but generic EDM-as-a-genre producers, I continuously hold them to a higher standard. As for 'All We Know'? It's...okay.
Here's the thing, I actually do like it. Sort of. It's catchy, I enjoy Phoebe Ryan's voice, and the imagery and subject matter that it deals with all resonate pretty well. What do you do when you've been in a relationship for so long that life outside of it terrifies you, even though at this point you're only going through the motions? How do you start dating again at 28 when you've been with the same person since your junior year of college? Is it even possible to work towards a future together when you want completely different things? ...should we just get married? These are some intensely personal themes; definitely not ones for the faint of heart, and a far cry from the "everybody fucking jump!" we've heard more than our fair share of over the last few years. Alex and Drew have always had an ability to conjure this evocative sense of wonder and nostalgia in their lyrics (and videos...seriously, Rory Kramer is an incredible filmmaker). 'All We Know' isn't missing any of that, but the underlying issue is the song just isn't bold enough. Super repetitive, a little underwhelming, and far too similar to their most recent hit 'Closer' (listen to them back to back). Once you scratch a little below the surface it just feels like wasted potential; a safe attempt at something they knew would resonate with fans. And that all just strikes me as uncharacteristic of the moves they been making recently.
One of my biggest issues with the music industry is that the feedback loop is broken. Nothing anyone says seems genuine anymore and people are either blindly throwing praise at something that's mediocre or going into a rage seizure over something that isn't a big deal. This is my attempt at being as honest as possible. 'All We Know' is just okay. It will probably do well, and we should expect to see some good (and a lot of bad) of remixes that come out of it. I'm not sure I would even be paying much attention to it had it not been produced by The Chainsmokers. But it is, so I am. And I expected more. I get it. Being creative is hard. Being creative one hundred percent of the time is impossible. It's okay if everything you make isn't perfect, but you can't have people validating something that hasn't earned validation. That's no way to grow. Sometimes you misfire, and that's okay, as long as you walk away with the right lesson. The Chainsmokers are in the center of the spotlight right now. Two number one tracks in the past year alone, and you can bet they're going to have more.  Looking forward to the next one. [caption id="attachment_38711" align="aligncenter" width="663"]chainsmokers-1 You can bet they are too.[/caption]