Given that Meghan Trainor‘s All About That Bass spent eight weeks at #1 on Billboard Top Hits and was nominated for two Grammy awards, it’s a little surprising that her first album has just been released today.
Although reviews have generally been positive for the 21 year old singer-songwriter’s freshman effort, none are unreservedly so. Most reviewers characterize the album as a throwback to the girl groups of the 60s and 70s, with the Boston Herald saying,
“Every track on “Title” benefits from pulling sounds from 50-year-old stacks of wax: “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” sways like a breathy Motown ballad, “What If I” steals swelling strings straight out of an Etta James arrangement, “Dear Future Husband” borrows liberally from “Runaround Sue” (and dig that King Curtis-style sax!).”
From there, a lot of the reviewers’ reception seems to depend on whether the reviewer in question was one of those who ended up mouthing the lyrics to the song whether they liked it or not. “All About That Bass” was catchy, no matter how one felt about its body politics, and many reviewers found something refreshing in Trainor’s callback to a more do-woppy era of music.
Carl Wilson at Billboard suggests, “These may be messages Trainor’s fans want and need to hear, but they get repetitive, and the retro musical framing sometimes threatens to make her healthy-values emphasis seem dully quaint and cloying. She does occasionally mix it up, with mixed results.”
Daniel D’Addario at Time is less forgiving
“But are we, as listeners, so lucky we now have Trainor? As music, the album is gloppy and saccharine, with Trainor’s voice sounding digitally sweetened to the point of near-incomprehensibility. And thematically, the songs that evince an attitude of goodness, including that ballad (“Close Your Eyes”), are smarmily obsessed with male approval; the ones that show off Trainor’s “bad” side are like a preteen’s idea of rebellion. Trainor sings about a “Walkashame,” but you sense she’s never actually been on one.”
Fans have been less critical on release day.
@Meghan_Trainor love you meg and title is amazing
— brian (@SleepindeGardn) January 13, 2015
— Lara White (@larawhitern) January 13, 2015
@Meghan_Trainor freaking love Title. Great job 🙂
— Josie Jonas (@_JocelynMae) January 13, 2015
— Christina (@ReadySetRock75) January 13, 2015
Jed Gottlieb at the Boston Herald gives Meghan Trainor credit for business savviness, however, which seems reasonable. After all, it’s worth remembering that the 21 year old got her start in the business as a songwriter, penning hits for groups like Rascal Flatts. She recorded “All About That Bass” after other singers passed on it–and, after playing it for L.A. Reid with a ukulele.
“Trainor and her main co-writer and producer Kevin Kadish have pop chops but their anti-formula mix of modern and throwback can come off as formulaic — too many of these songs sound like “Bass” sequels. But in the moments between the faux hip-hop, thumping beats and big, brass horns, Trainor squeezes in some genuine soul: I want the hushed opening of “Close Your Eyes” to go on forever. Nothing on “Title” will hit like “All About That Bass,” but she’s sharp enough to see that and I bet she finds a new voice on LP No. 2.”
Meghan Trainor seems like a savvy millennial, who knows how to focus the power of her “Megatron” fans through social media and direct them to her new album. What happens next? We’ll have to wait and see.