Meghan Trainor aims to define herself on her own terms for her newest album. Takin’ It Back is the title of Trainor’s first album free from a restricting three album record deal that looked to maximise the success wrought from the garish but incredibly viral All About That Bass.
Trainor thematically invests in positive self-love messages as well as the mechanics of married life. Sensitive sets out the album’s stall to this end. The self-care message is delivered acapella; naked vocals aptly convey a sense of vulnerability.
Don’t I Make It Look Easy expands on these themes. Despite a repetitive hook, the song’s lyrics are impactful coming from a singer of Trainor’s popularity. Trainor paints her confident public persona as sometimes constituting a trick – she “makes it look easy” to “filter” her true emotions. The lyrics are particularly valuable because Trainor appeals to the sort of young, image-conscious fanbase that is so impressionable in the age of internet virality.
Sonically Trainor ventures into some new territory. Indeed, the album is at its most fun when it experiments with different sounds. Breezy is the best example of this. With a reggae flair to it, the song exults in an infectious, easy going attitude. Short, snappy horns and plinky piano riffs decorate the track nicely. Reharmonizations also ensure the song never dulls. Mama Wanna Mambo meanwhile delves into reggaeton and is unlike anything Trainor has done before. Even if the style doesn’t entirely suit her, the album benefits from songs like Mama Wanna Mambo bringing variety.
Takin’ It Back still produces the bubblegum pop that propelled Trainor to stardom though. Made You Look is simple but effective pop music with a cheeky, flirty attitude. On Rainbow, trite lyrics are remedied by a soulful delivery. The beat has a lilting quality about it that expresses Trainor’s romantic side. Title track Takin’ It Back is a low point however. It harks back with vagueness to “the good old days” of radio music when the “bassline wasn’t basic”. There is a painful lack of self-awareness in the song – Trainor’s sugary sweet pop is guilty of the radio-friendly formula that people often lament.
Nonetheless, Takin’ It Back is Trainor’s most complete album to date and admirable in Trainor’s effort to wrest control of her own narrative. Trainor’s music is still somewhat derivative but dips its toes in more interesting places this time.