Pentatonix has come a long way since winning the a cappella competition The Sing-Off in 2011. After releasing three shorter volumes of stunning covers and a scattering of originals, the 5-member group is now exploring their own potential as songwriters in their newest, self-titled album: Pentatonix. And it is phenomenal.
Normally, a cappella artists are relegated to a sort of artsy side interest that people listen to only as a side dish to many extremely famous artists. Pentatonix aims to change that, and has been making huge leaps in the history of a cappella for the last four years. Their christmas album That’s Christmas to Me went platinum on December 4, 2014, with their Daft Punk medley winning a Grammy in 2015. And now, thanks to their enormous global fan base, their album Pentatonix topped the Billboard 200 charts on the week of November 7. And in doing so, they beat out Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Sam Smith, and Adele.
The songs on this album mark a slight departure from the signature sound that long-time Pentatonix fans are used to hearing. With only five members, they create an astoundingly rich and layered sound, and are extremely versatile – jumping between the upbeat and catchy rhythm of Na Na Na and Sing, and the darker, more intense emotion in Cracked. Can’t Sleep Love features each of the members in their unique tone colors and capabilities. The middle of the album grows calmer, yet still portrays the strength and artistry behind tracks such as Water and Take me Home. The beautiful slow ballad Light in the Hallway features Avi Kaplan, the group’s bass, who also possesses a rich, melodious lead that carries this song with ease. In addition to their electrifying originals, the deluxe edition of Pentatonix also offers covers of Where are U Now and Cheerleader, that show a different side of these popular songs and even improve on them.
So congratulations Pentatonix on a well-deserved top album! Their first full-length, all original content album is an exploration of their potential, and each track brings something new to the stage. While it departs somewhat from their typical style, it still strongly conveys the essence of the group and their wide range of musical tastes. Even listeners unfamiliar to a cappella will find at least one song on this album that captures their ears, and returning fans will appreciate that far from remaining static, Pentatonix continues in the evolution of their sound.