The Chainsmokers are back—stream ‘So Far So Good’
In a perennially chilly aisle of the grocery store, you stand, perusing the frozen pizzas. Movement in your peripheral is your invitation to turn, so you do; the silhouette of an old friend you’ve not seen in years is in your line of sight. They’re at once familiar and different, mature in a way that you might not have remembered them. You could breeze by or you could say hello. You choose the latter—and you’re glad you do. The So Far So Good listening experience is a lot like this.
At first blush, The Chainsmokers are recognizable on the long-form project—their first in three years. “Riptide” and “iPad,” the LP’s first and third inclusions, respectively, channel the classic Chainsmokers sound that put Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall on the map—and not long thereafter, the charts—from 2014-2016. Their more immediate positioning on So Far So Good‘s tracklist suggests that The Chainsmokers will increasingly lean into a sound reminiscent of their earlier years as the album progresses. Spoiler alert: they don’t.
From So Far So Good‘s fourth tracklisting (the dreamy “Maradona”) onward, these glimmers of resemblance morph into a fresh indie-pop-meets-electronic hybrid style in which Taggart’s verses mingle synergistically with beat-minded arrangements. If you’re looking for a cousin to something like “Closer,” you won’t find it past “iPad.” And though that walk down memory lane is welcome, the stride into a discerning new era of Chainsmokers sound is compelling enough to make So Far So Good‘s appeal reach well beyond Taggart and Pall’s existing audience.
The LP is rife with ear-catching moments ranging from The 1975-sian influence audible on “If You’re Serious”—unexpected but well-executed—to the equally unanticipated gear shift around the time of the bridge on “Maradona.” An honorable mention goes to the lyrics of Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination,” which make their way into the concluding moments of “Testing.”
In an interview with Billboard, The Chainsmokers imparted that they’d entered the So Far So Good writing process with “no rules, no pressure, [and] no preconceived notions.” Free of these fetters, Taggart and Pall distilled The Chainsmokers sound. At its most succinct, it’s a texture-indulgent flirtation with indie-pop and electronic sensibilities. On a more detailed level, though, it’s a somewhat opaque roller coaster of emotion and feeling translated through lyrics that are, in characteristic Chainsmokers fashion, unabashed and not without touches of whimsy.
The effect of So Far So Good‘s first spin is the sense that one listen isn’t enough to digest all that The Chainsmokers are telling streamers, not merely—or even chiefly—through lyrics, but also—and more so—through the sonic choices that they make. To watch a long, elaborate film the second time around is to note details missed the first time, often by virtue of the fact that repeated returns are necessary to fully process all that happens. The So Far So Good listening experience is also a lot like this.
Stream The Chainsmokers’ answer to 2019’s World War Joy below.