A cappella has long existed as an under-appreciated genre, struggling to prove itself in popular culture. But a cappella has persisted and is now making its way into mainstream music, a movement that is spearheaded by a cappella royalty: Pentatonix.
The five highly talented and ambitious members of Pentatonix are unafraid to take risks, something that does them well in their newest album Pentatonix. The work as a whole truly exemplifies the creative capabilities and overall flexibility of the band. This album is refreshing, with most of the focus on masterfully orchestrated original compositions and fewer covers than the group normally relies on. The stand-out cover is the massive hit by Justin Bieber, Skrillex and Diplo, “Where Are Ü Now,” which the group completely strips down and turns into a moody, sultry, melodic track.
As for their originals, Pentatonix capitalizes on all of their best qualities as individuals and as a group. Intricately blended melodies, unbelievable range and riffs and a unique sound are mainstays on the album, qualities even mainstream artists struggle with. The group also explores multiple genres on the album, from the funky single “Can’t Sleep Love” to the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Light In The Hallway” to the electric power pop track “Ref.”
The low points of the album are generally the tracks that lack the creativity needed to launch them outside the realm of a cappella and into mainstream music. While most of the album is bursting with imagination and innovation, a few tracks are absent of these qualities. Namely, “Cracked” has a vague Black Keys feel, which is a tad repetitive and seems like something the listener has definitely heard before. The next song, “Water,” also fails to impress — plain and unremarkable compared to the rest of the album.
Some of the best tracks on this album, however, are hidden in the middle of Pentatonix, including “If I Ever Fall In Love,” featuring Jason Derulo. A cover of the 90s hit by Shai, Pentatonix and Jason Derulo reinvigorate the track with a dynamic energy that wasn’t whatsoever present in the original. “Rose Gold” has a Lorde-esque feel, with a simple but distinct backing track and beat, accompanied by an effortless and alluring melody. Later, “Take Me Home” has easily the most comforting and warm feel of any track on the album, the musical embodiment of snuggling up under a warm blanket with a good book and a hot chocolate next to a crackling fire.
There is no better indicator of the up-and-coming powerhouse that is Pentatonix than this album –– their talent, fearlessness and musical versatility take them far with Pentatonix, and will undoubtedly take them even farther as a cappella artists breaking out into mainstream music.
Contact Paige Petrashko at [email protected].