If you don’t know how excited we’ve been for Pentatonix’s first ever full-length original album — where have you been exactly? We’ve been long time fans of the a capella group who slay every track they touch with their unique sound. The group, who got their start on YouTube (after winning The Sing Off), have been slaying the music game winning Grammys and releasing albums with their covers of some of our favourite tracks.
Now, the squad –Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstie Maldonado, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola — are trying their hand at original music with their self-titled record. We got a taste of what to expect from the album with their single “Can’t Sleep Love,” so naturally the drop day of the record has been marked in our calendar for a while now.
After what feels like forever, Pentatonix is here and here’s a track-by-track review of what we thought:
Na Na Na
This track has us snapping our fingers and bopping our heads. We love the fun beat and old school sound. Beware: When that chorus kicks in you will want to dance around like no one is watching. Plus, Mitch’s vocals are ace on this track.
Can’t Sleep Love
We’ve been jamming to this track since it was released as a single. The tune is chill, relaxed and just so feel-good. This song just makes us happy and we dig the retro vibes that stay present throughout the album.
This is hands done the most soulful track off the record. It’s so fun that you can literally “feel the beat.” This is the song you’re going to be belting at the top of your lungs while you’re in the shower. This tune makes you want to sing. Plus, we love how it really utilizes the vocal abilities of all of the group’s members. Also, did we mention how adorable the music video is? Look closely for international PTX fans, your favourite celebs and your fave YouTuber personalities.
“Misbehavin” transports us through time as it sounds like a go-to juke box jam. This retro tune fits nicely into the album’s old-school themes. We love the song’s oldie inspired sounds paired with the group’s techno sound that is distinctly them.
This track utilizes Avi Kaplan and Kevin’s ability to create insane sounds the best. “Ref” brings together everyone’s talents for one epic track. This is the club jam that the record needs. The record lacks a sufficient amount of Kirstie so we ‘re so happy her vocals are displayed in this song. The lyrics play on the word “ref” is spot on, making it the album’s cheekiest, most clever song.
First Things First
“First Things First” is a sassy track — and we would expect nothing less from the squad. There are a lot of la la’s and na na’s on this album — but it works best on this track. It’s a fool proof way to immerse people into the beat of a tune. The chorus of this song is infectious and is “Sing” 2.0 with its sing-along factor. Scott’s vocal style range is plain to see in this track.
Compared to the fast, fun, infectious feel-good tracks that come before “Rose Gold” on the album — the song kind of falls flat. It sounds pretty — of course — and the lyrics are sweet (another love song) but “Can’t Sleep Love” greatly surpasses its keep-on-repeat factor.
If I Ever Fall In Love
All of Pentatonix’s tracks have an undeniable cool factor and this is only amplified by Jason Derulo — a perfect collaborative choice. Jason’s vocals soar and are complimented by Pentatonix’s harmonies and general vocal perfection together. This love track succeeds where “Rose Gold” lacks. Love songs are great but, when it comes to Pentatonix, we need the song to have some oomph — that makes-you-wanna-dance factor — and If I Ever Fall In Love has that. Scott and Jason’s vocals together are everything we need and more. The notes hit in this track are inhuman.
“Cracked” is a raw emotional track that shows off Scott’s powerful vocals best. “Your halos gone and all I see os horns” may be one of the best lyrics off of the entire record. Lyrically, rhythmically, and in all senses “Cracked” is a solid track that sticks to their distinct retro/techno themes.
Yes. Kirstie lead vocals. We needed more of this from the album but the group is always good at playing to everyone’s strengths and Kirstie’s ethereal sound works great for “Water.” “I need you like water” is one of the record’s sweetest lyrics. This is one of the prettiest sounding tunes off the album and is Pentatonix’s unique take on a ballad.
Take Me Home
Okay. We take that back. You wouldn’t think a beat heavy a capella group could do a straight up ballad but Scott kills this tune. It’s soft, sweet, subtle and just a really pretty song. Yes, we will keep describing their tracks as “pretty.”
New Years Day
Considering this was the track that we were least excited for, it’s a pleasant surprise. The concept of starting new like on New Years Day, although it wouldn’t work for any other music group, is super sweet and feel-good. Plus, Mitch’s verse is adorable.
Light In The Hallway
We need lead vocals from Avi ALWAYS. We need minimal slow(ish) songs from a Pentatonix album so “Water” and “Take Me Home” probably would’ve been sufficient, but “Light In The Hallway” has a hauntingly beautiful vibe to it that makes it work.
Where Are U Now
We’ve had this cover for a while now — and thank goodness for that. Pentatonix’s gutsy move of a whole original album is an admirable and special one — but we are so glad they threw in three covers. This cover is everything we need from the a capella group. Vocally it’s powerful with Mitch kicking off the track and it’s the best cover we’ve ever heard of the track.
We’ve had this track on repeat for a while as it was one of the first tracks released from the album. It’s catchy, snappy, and makes us want to dance, like most Pentatonix covers. It shows off what the group does best.
This is the cover we needed from Pentatonix. This song was screaming to get covered by the group and we’re so glad they answered. The leading vocals are incredibly powerful and together the group reimagines the heavily radio played track to make it their own.
Can’t Sleep ft. Tink
This song is worth repeating for Tink’s fun verse that adds a little something extra to the track.
Verdict: 3.9 Na-Na-Na’s
After years of YouTube covers and subsequent cover albums, it seems only fitting that the group dive into original music — and let us tell you, they deliver. Together, the group’s individually talented members each bring their all to every track. Every member has an outstanding special talent whether it be Mitch’s flawless falsetto, Scott’s belting, Kirstie’s sweet vocals, Kevin’s beat boxing, or Avi’s general magical tendencies. Pentatonix’s Pentatonix is a valiant foray into original music. Most of “Pentatonix’s” tracks are fun and catchy as the group has found it’s distinct original sound. Blending retro sounds with new, they have a niche and they can stick to it. Their debut suggests serious promise for more original tunes and we just can’t wait to see the group grow and expand musically even more so than they already have.
Pentatonix is currently available to purchase here on iTunes.
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