I confess, I’m terrible at staying awake throughout albums of instrumental music. I may love a track or two, but play a dozen tracks back to back and I will soon get this pleasant, heavy sensation over my eyelids and then it’s off to dreamland. I like The Piano Guys. I like Limitless. At the same time, I wish things hadn’t been so pleasant that everything feels like it’s stuck in a pleasant but inoffensive and bland mid tempo rut.
Limitless is a mishmash of pop stuff given the mostly piano and cello treatment as the main guys, after all, play these instruments, along with other strings and woozy-woozy sweeping sounds thrown in. The whole thing is like a Vangelis concert stuck in a small box. Sure, these guys’ versions of popular anthems from The Greatest Showman (A Million Dreams, Rewrite the Stars) are lovely, especially Steven Sharp Nelson’s cello duet with his wife’s violin in the latter, but these tracks feel safe, predictable in a “Well, we can never go wrong with these!” way.
Still, there are a few interesting experiments. Their mashup of Shawn Mendes’s In My Blood with one of the scores from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (philistine here, don’t ask me which one) reveals that, given the right treatment, Shawn Mendes’s music would make a perfect rousing soundtrack for fantasy role-playing games. The K-Pop wannabe BTS – DNA is notable in its misstep – these guys try, but the end result sounds too much like a generic cliché made by people whose only exposure to that genre is Gangnam Style.
Mashing Something Just Like This by the bland Chainsmokers with Franz Lizst’s
Everything else sounds exactly like what one would expect from these guys. Pleasant tunes that reach their crescendo at the most predictable moments, in equally predictable ways. All of this makes for some pleasant background music when one is doing something else more interesting, of course, but still, for an album called Limitless, these guys seem to be limiting themselves to doing what is expected of them.