Between the unexpected popularity of All About That Bass In 2014 and the endless stream of promotion and radio play from songs on her debut album Title in 2015, Meghan Trainor has basically spent the past two years in the spotlight, topping international charts after appearing as if from nowhere. Given this fact, it’s no surprise that she’s come back a year later with the follow-up album, Thank You; an album that attempts to tackle a style different from her first album’s, yet features a new set of problems.
While Title was heavy on doo-wop and soul influences, Thank You sees Trainor veering to a space between modern dance-pop and 90s R&B. The lead single No was heavily influenced by the latter, sitting somewhere between a 90s boy band and a Destiny’s Child song stylistically; meanwhile, the follow-up single retains some R&B flavour but pairs it with a contemporary dance-pop production style. The album also explores a more tropical style on Better, and tackles the simple indie ukulele ballad on Just a Friend to You, which pairs it with sweeping strings that feel like they counter the song’s general theme. The closing track, Champagne Problems, is easily the most modern, with its synth piano lines and post-chorus drop pushing it closer to currently popular electronic production trends. The style of each song differs greatly from the one that came before, and this in turn leads to the album’s biggest problem.
While her first album had an unmistakable style to it, Thank You foregoes cohesion for this variety, ultimately making it hard to place a particular person to each song. The initial impression the album leaves is that it’s made up of songs written for other people, not exactly sticking to Trainor’s style and leaving the album feeling anonymous. The only moments that truly scream Trainor are I Love Me and Dance Like Yo Daddy, which only get this credit for sounding quite similar to All About That Bass. Even then, her style was never quite so unique to her; while All About That Bass is easily identifiable, the retro boom did have its moment some years earlier, with the likes of Duffy coming before Trainor, and songs about self-acceptance have been a bit of a trend for some time now, making their reappearance on Thank You feel somewhat unnecessary; especially when they sometimes border on conceited, rather than empowering. The added fact that the album’s best moments come at the beginning and the end of the album, and are relatively few and far between, makes the album somewhat more difficult to sit through.
While it did show some promise at first, Thank You ultimately falls fairly far below the standards of Title. Rather than honing into a sound all of her own, Trainor once again rehashes a past style in a way that makes her even less identifiable than she was the first time around, which was the opposite of what should happen in an artist’s career. While there are a few great moments on Thank You, especially in its earlier moments, Trainor’s efforts to explore a new sound in her own way unfortunately don’t work out. This ultimately leaves the album feeling somewhat flat despite her best efforts to inject some unique personality into the mix.