Electronic dance music has a bit of an odd place in the world of popular music. Producers have a tendency to create a single that unexpectedly becomes massive and then work to recreate that style from then on. While it’s not always a negative thing, the success of his single Clarity initially raised concerns that this would be the way Zedd would go.
True Colors does feature songs that follow the same slow build-up verse into a larger drop that was evident in Clarity, such as Addicted To A Memory and Beautiful Now. In the grand scheme of the album, though, it merely feels like he’s trying to build a new sound for himself, still electronic and danceable but much more pop than before. Neither of the aforementioned songs are memorable in the context of the album, but the more pop-focused songs that follow make up for it.
The best example of the quality of the album comes with four specific songs, acting as pairs that seamlessly transition between each other to create a sense of progression. Daisy, opening with a full string arrangement and vocals, leads into a pleasant little mid-tempo synth-pop song that leads into the similar but more dance-focused Illusion. The stronger pair starts with Done With Love, which opens with nothing but heavily distorted vocals and no beats, before leading into another synth-pop song, with a drop that sticks to the mood and sounds of the song and fits in perfectly, but then leads into True Colors, the only song on the album to completely lack any major electronic elements, instead focusing on guitar and drums as the singer belts over the simple instrumental.
Additionally, Papercut stands out as a straight dance-pop song with a notably strong arrangement, whose drop blends seamlessly into the song. It also feels more substantial than the rest of the album without requiring numerous sections or unfitting melodies to fill the empty space. Transmission, a house inspired song, stands out instead for its unique sound on the album, taking the direct repetitive sound of house music without being overbearing. These focus less on the seamless transition trick and more on quality production, which makes them stronger than the paired songs are when listened to individually.
Outside of these six songs though, the album feels somewhat less memorable. Straight Into The Fire features pleasant verses that could make for a good song, but instead lead into an awkward drop with an unappealing melody that renders it harder to listen to. I Want You To Know feels uninspired compared to Zedd’s other work, and Bumble Bee is too repetitive in the context of the album without any memorable melody to help it stand out. Adding Addicted To A Memory and Beautiful Now on top of these means the less memorable songs make up almost half the album.
Initially, this split in quality seems disappointing. However, the strength of the album’s standout songs makes it a much stronger package as a whole. They show that Zedd hasn’t entirely given in to the pressure to recreate his hit single, and is instead trying to incorporate its style into the larger scheme of his music while it progresses in a new direction. True Colors may not be better than his debut album, but it’s still a solid sophomore effort.