Having a debut single already receiving Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year is an astonishing achievement for any singer-songwriter.
This is exactly what Meghan Trainor has achieved with the inescapable, All About That Bass, with its sugary, 1960s vibe and its self-empowerment theme proving a hit on radio.
First album Title expands upon the similarly titled EP released last year as Trainor now tries to build on her new-found success. The cute acapella of the interlude The Best Part, which expresses Trainor’s intention to sing her songs to the world, sets the tone for much of the album.
The swinging rhythms and sweet harmonies of doo-wop groups like the Shangri-Las and Ronettes are clear inspirations on the album’s production. Trainor’s pleasant vocals, slightly mindless lyrics, and bouncy retro-sounding arrangements are designed to be digestible, apart from the odd explicit word here and there.
Drummer tribute Dem Sticks is bound to be a single, though its melody evokes a bit too much of the Pretenders’ Brass in Pocket and its recurring funky brass riff joins the Thrift Shop bandwagon.
Second single and album closer Lips Are Movin’ leaps out of the speakers with its insistent bass and Trainor’s defiant rapped verses, marking another twist-inducing highlight.
The juxtaposition between retro and modern elements in the production works in some cases, with highly topical references to ‘bringing booty back’ and ‘photoshop’ on THAT single and trap-touches on the earnest bonus track No Good For You. Nevertheless, this falls flat in other instances like the omnipresent artificially-deepened voice on R&B tracks on the otherwise perfect-for-bedtime Close Your Eyes.
Apart from the rather odd aspirations to marriage on Dear Future Husband and Title, there are other relatable tracks elsewhere where Trainor doesn’t take herself too seriously. Listeners can certainly feel an affinity to the drunken-text story 3am and laughable one-night-stand tale of Walkashame, on which Trainor shines most apart from the singles. Penultimate track What If I is a subtle, romantic affair, with its smooth, orchestral waltz hinting at the classic At Last. Unfortunately, like much of the album, the autotune on Trainor’s vocals detracts from her otherwise performances and the refreshingly timeless arrangements.
Meghan Trainor’s debut effort has her finding her voice, with her two singles proving to be successful experiments so early in her career in the industry. Now it’s time for the singer-songwriter to hone in and develop her own signature sound in the fickle world of pop.