Pentatonix’ new EP finds them moving from strength to strength as they combine their typically innovative cover arrangements with original material. “Volume III’s” major covers are their takes on Ariana Grande’s “Problem” and Stromae’s major European hit “Papaoutai.”
The EP opens with “Problem,” where Kirstie Maldonado put on her best Iggy Azalea (ok, better than Iggy Azalea, but yeah) in the rap section. K.O’s beatboxing is especially strong on this track, as is Avi Kaplan’s bass—which is universally excellent on “Volume III.”
The other two covers, “La La Latch,” and “Rather Be,” are fine outings that focus on their ensemble singing. However, “Volume III” places a great deal of emphasis on the individual singers as it does on the group as a whole. This is especially true on “See Through,” which is a showcase for Maldonado, “Papaoutai,” where Scott Hoying sings in exquisite French, and “Standing By’s” feature of Mitch Grassi.
To my mind, “Papaoutai,” represents a big step in the musical development of the group. Even though their vocal dynamics are as excellent as ever, their voices, with the exception of Hoying’s lead vocals, are more used as texture and coloring. “Papaoutai,” which also features Lindsey Stirling on violin—by now the group’s unofficial sixth member—and K.O. on cello, is the least strictly a capella song that they have done so far, and is a revelation as far as how musically versatile the group is.
Basically, every new Pentatonix release leaves listeners craving for more, and “Volume III,” is no different. Thankfully, the group will be releasing their new Christmas EP later this month, so we won’t have to wait too long for more Pentatonix!