Pentatonix is an interesting group with an amazing sound. Consisting of 4 guys and a girl, this a capella group takes on songs that one might never imagine could be performed without instruments while sounding better than the originals. Truly, this group has amazing talent, and their newest outing confirms this. PTX, Vol. III, the 7 track offering that released on September 23rd, is filled with beautiful arrangements, wonderful covers of popular songs, original tracks, great harmonies, and a surprise appearance by Lindsey Stirling. Read on for the track by track rundown of PTX, Vol. III.
One of the most popular songs of the year, and definitely the most well known on the album, Problem is a great cover of the Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea collaboration. Bassist Avi Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin Olusola provide an amazing beat to this song, while Kirstie Maldonado, Scott Hoying, and Mitch Grassi each hit some devilishly high notes for their ranges. Mitch mentioned in a sneak peek video that those were actually the highest notes Scott has ever recorded for Pentatonix. On top of that, Mitch raps out Iggy’s lines just as well as she does. Problem is a high energy track that manages to showcase everyone’s talents while being peppy and upbeat. It is the perfect way to start off the EP.
Oh, as a side note, pay attention to the part where you hear the whispering “I’ve got one less problem without you,” in the chorus. Kevin is saying that and beatboxing at the same time. TALENT.
2: On My Way Home
Second, you’ll find On My Way Home, one of three Pentatonix originals on the EP. This track has one of the most addicting beats and rhythms of any one the EP, and it once again shows off the deep, booming bass from Avi. Even still, the song provides great harmonization all the way around, and it sounds like a track that one might hear on the radio. It povides wonderful highs and lows and features some amazing composition.
3: La La Latch
Combining popular tracks La La La and Latch into an a capella mash-up, La La Latch does a great job of creating a coherent experience. They manage to take both songs and warp them into a way that sounds new, genuine, original, and absolutely Pentatonix. These guys have a certain element that resounds in nearly all their tracks that really defines them while simultaneously being unexplainable. La La Latch possesses this, and is a solid addition.
4: Rather Be
Rather Be is currently one of my favorite songs on pop radio, and Pentatonix does it justice. This is one of those tracks that doesn’t immediately sound like one that could or should be translated into a vocal-only performance, mainly due to its techno and heavily processed nature. Nonetheless, Pentatonix works some magic and transforms it into a wonderful track with Kirstie taking the lead vocals. Mitch and Scott provide the perfect accompaniment, and Avi and Kevin keep the bass pumping throughout. This one’s definitely another standout track.
5: See Through
See Through is another Pentatonix original, and I have to start by saying that I love the staccato notes in the background. They really add to the tension of the track, and once they melt into held, connected notes in the chorus, it creates a wonderful contrast going into the second verse. Mitch’s lead vocals are spot on, and as always, the bass is uncannily exemplary. The amount of tension filled contrast in this track is stunning, and added with an almost EDM/dance feel, it’s easy to get lost and fail to realize that yes, it’s still a capella. Astounding.
This is definitely the most ambitious, adventurous, interesting song that Pentatonix has ever released. Not only is the track sung entirely in French, but it features Lindsey Stirling on violin and Kevin on the cello (while beatboxing). This breaks the mold of what traditional a capella music is, but that’s just the fire that Pentatonix needs to stay original, genuine, and fresh. It’s sacrilegious in a way concerning the genre, but I find it to be a perfectly acceptable breath of fresh air. The voices combine with the strings perfectly, and even though the track is impossible for me to understand, it’s still pleasing to the ear, providing a tension filled, upbeat experience.
Upon a bit of research, I learned that “Papaoutai” is a written play on the words “Papa où tes?” which means, “Dad, where are you?” Simply knowing this helps even a non-French speaker understand the pain and emotion in the song, making it all the more amazing, despite the language barrier. Music is fantastic in this way.
7: Standing By
The final song on the album is also the last of the three Pentatnox originals here. There’s only one way to describe this one: beautiful. From the lyrics to the harmony, everything is just an amazing ride here. This is definitely one of the most emotional yet calm and peaceful tracks I’ve ever heard. It’s a great way to end the EP while keeping listeners coming back for more.
Luckily, that won’t take long. Their full length Christmas album, That’s Christmas To Me, drops October 21st, and they’ll be making an appearance in Pitch Perfect 2 next May. For those interested, PTX, Vol III is only $5 on Amazon, which is unbeatable, especially considering the amount of work and raw talent that went into its making. I strongly encourage everyone to check this one out.
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