Ah yes, the Chainsmokers. As much of an unwanted-yet-trademark part of the Northwestern experience as complaining about the Dillo Day lineup or screaming to “Mr. Brightside” in a sweaty, damp basement, even when it’s below freezing outside.
The Chainsmokers have been with me through some of my most mundane moments – and some of the weirdest, too. “Roses” was the nightmare of my freshman year: gently playing in the background as I bit into a frozen carrot in the dining hall, blasting in an Uber on my way to my first off-campus party, playing on the cashier’s phone in Lisa’s at 3 a.m. as she pity-smiled at my bag of Doritos and me.
“Closer” was the anthem I (and this campus) didn’t know I needed. It blasted in my hallway as I unpacked my new room, and I gleefully watched my friends howl along to the words as we reunited at parties throughout Fall Quarter. Its twangy, playful beats followed me into Winter Quarter, through all the milestones of my sophomore slump.
As the Chainsmokers matured, so did I. I wasn’t playfully lusting after all my relationships like the singer of “Roses” anymore; I was itching and learning what it meant to build deeper connections with people and face the scary prospects of entering my 20s. My experiences resonated with those of Halsey and Chainsmokers frontman Andrew Taggart, as they lament in their “Closer” duet.
And that’s why it must have been fate when the Chainsmokers dropped their junior album the day after my first real college breakup.
At first, I was reluctant to listen to the album altogether, despite raving reviews from my friends. When you’re a Northwestern student with a somewhat average social life, it is far too easy to line up milestones with different singles by the Chainsmokers. Were you listening to “Closer” when you had your first kiss? “Paris” during your first fight? Or was it “The One?”
Finally, I caved and listened to the album in full. It wasn’t that hard of a decision, especially considering the young duo already followed me in every C-Store, dining hall, Uber and party I entered the week after the split.
From the soft opening notes of “The One” to the crescendo of Chris Martin’s vocals in “Something Just Like This,” Memories: Do Not Open is the Chainsmokers’ triumphant pathway into mainstream pop adulthood – a far cry from the obnoxious, raging beats of “Selfie.” Many of the songs explore themes of romantic longing, unrequited love and the angst of early adulthood. With each track under four minutes long, it’s the perfect album to play on loop or to pick a few favorites to play on repeat for all of eternity.
I decided to begin my journey with Memories by deliberately playing the saddest song on the album on repeat until my eyes could no longer produce tears. Of course, this meant starting out with “The One.” It sounded like Taggart sang in solidarity with me, wailing about his own failed love as I lay in bed, blaming my breakup on the Mercury Retrograde. Next came “Paris,” which represented a slow buildup of strength, with the repeated line “Let’s show them we are better” and an elegant guitar riff during the pre-chorus. “Paris” held my hand, dragged me out of bed and got me to Cheesie’s (I heard grilled cheese is good for filling the cracks of a broken heart). My favorite song on the album, “Bloodstream,” became the theme song to my favorite part of any breakup: the transition from the pathetic, wounded animal first stage of a breakup to remembering WHO THE FUCK YOU ARE. “Bloodstream” is a battle cry for anyone who has ever been brave enough to get their heart broken, chase after a vice or two and live to tell the tale.
“Breakup Every Night,” the second song on the album, rallied me for a well-deserved night out with my best friends and in the library the next day as I grinded through a report about the 1920’s. It’s loud, it’s triumphant, and, in true Chainsmokers fashion, the perfect sing-along song for a newly single college lady. My adventure with this album has steadily concluded with the duo’s latest single, “My Type,” in which the sultry Emily Warren talks about a glorified bad boy who keeps pulling her back in. It’s the ideal music to play when you’re in the midst of a perfect rebound hookup (preferably under twinkly string lights).
So don’t just write off the Chainsmokers as the “annoying, dumb fuckboys” who wrote “Closer.” Call me basic, but these two Colorado gentlemen spoke to me as I struggled with a mild identity crisis … and you can bet I’ll be crying at their concert in two weeks.