Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Upgrade To The Full Album: Title (Deluxe) By Meghan Trainor

The Good: Good statements, Some clever lyrics, Fun sound, Longer than the EP!
The Bad: Vocals are of seriously variable quality, Still could be longer . . .
The Basics: Worth buying, albeit somewhat repetitive, Meghan Trainor’s deluxe version of Title expands the EP into a worthwhile album.

It’s hard not to feel a little ripped off by Meghan Trainor, especially for those of us who actually helped support her breakout hit by buying her E.P. Title (reviewed here!). Now, Trainor and her record label have upgraded the E.P. into a full album by the same name. At least before the DVD of X-Men: Days Of Future Past (reviewed here!) was released, fans were alerted to the fact that a better, more complete version was coming in 2015. Not so with Trainor’s Title, but fortunately, Meghan Trainor put the months between the E.P. and full versions of Title to good use. Title, which is now available in E.P., Full Album and Deluxe Album versions, is worth picking up in the deluxe version (which is what I’m reviewing now!).

While it might be chic to attack Meghan Trainor for the single line in “All About The Bass” that (some, ridiculously) attribute to “thin shaming” – the affirmative defense is “I’m only addressing “bitches,” so if you’re not skinny AND bitchy, the line isn’t about you! – 2014’s big breakout single is an anthem that celebrates body types that are not just one, narrow, image. For all the people who complain about “All About The Bass,” one suggests that their feelings might be different if they did not see themselves in virtually every other presentation of womanhood in media (i.e. the, largely, thin Anglo female population that is complaining the loudest about “All About The Bass” looks like a class of whiners when one considers there is one song celebrating a different body type, compared to the masses of women who have that body type and are compelled to look at the skinny Anglo female form the rest of the time . . .). If the deluxe version of Title does anything, it is to prove that Meghan Trainor is more than more than “All About The Bass.”

With fifteen tracks, clocking out at 45:57, the full version of Title is very much the work of Meghan Trainor and her team at Epic. Trainor deserves a lot of credit: she co-wrote all of the songs and provides all of the lead vocals on Title. While Trainor does play some instruments on the album, she is mostly relegated to percussion, drum programming, and supporting instruments. That said, she is one of the album’s three producers, so it is hard to say this is not the creative vision of Meghan Trainor.

Title is very much an album out of time and that might be what makes it work so well. Instrumentally, Title most like a pop album from the 1970s, in the style of Lou Christie, or the do-wop albums of the 1950s. While much of the album is engineered with piano, drums and bass as the primary instruments, Trainor accents with guitars and an impressive amount of brass. “Walkashame” blasts out of the album largely because the trumpets and brass section make it sound like a classic pop-funk anthem and that sounds unlike anything else on the radio today. The beauty of the music on Title is that almost every song has a tune, melody, harmony; this is a very hummable, memorable musical experience (unlike so much music that is played these days).

Perhaps the biggest limitation to the success of Title are the vocals of Meghan Trainor herself. Trainor has a good voice, which comes through on songs like “Credit,” where Trainor hits beautiful high notes and with a soulful level of emotion. But songs like “Credit” and “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” are the exception to the rule on Title. More often than not, Trainor articulates her message, but takes the vocal form of other performers. On “Bang Dem Sticks,” Trainor sounds like Nikki Minaj and her natural vocals are overproduced on songs like “No Good For You.”

That said, Meghan Trainor has a lot to say and her messages are generally empowering and very cool. For all of the songs that minimize the power of women, Trainor manages to normalize twentysomething behavior in an entertaining way on songs like “Walkashame.” When Trainor sings “Oh my god, I put my pants on inside out / I couldn't tell cause the lights were out / I beat the sunrise again, oh oh oh / Neighbors stare, I smile away cause I just don't care / They're probably jealous of my sexy hair” (“Walkashame”), she makes the rare comedic song with wry observations that are very relatable.

Trainor has also not softened since the release of the E.P. On Title, she rocks out the strength of women with lines like “I know you lie / 'Cause your lips are moving / Tell me do you think I'm dumb? / I might be young, but I ain't stupid / Talking around in circles with your tongue / I gave you bass, you gave me sweet talk / Saying how I'm your number one / But I know you lie / 'Cause your lips are moving / Baby, don't you know I'm done” (“Lips Are Movin”). Trainor manages to make a righteous anger song without sounding like a moody teen or a grunge artist!

As well, Meghan Trainor presents a very fallible side with her musical protagonists. Most of her songs are about relationships and how people relate in society. On “3am,” Trainor sings about longing and a little bit of obsession. It is hard for anyone who has had the late night urge to reconnect with an ex- not to feel a tug when they hear “I can't believe I'm still doing this / I told myself a month ago that I'd be through with this / I'm looking at my phone, and wondering if you're home / I'm kinda tipsy, I ain't tryna sleep alone / Somebody told me that some other girl was hugging you / Baby you know I'm the one that should be loving you / You know we had a thing baby it's such a shame” (“3am”).

Ultimately, Title, in its full form, is the album we need today. It’s a largely positive musical message that urges people (not just women, despite the musical protagonists being mostly female and the distinctly feminine voice of Meghan Trainor) to stand up and be themselves. Title is about empowerment, having wants and demanding the respect that comes with being an equal partner in relationships. Despite the retro-sound, that is a timeless message and well worth supporting!

The best song is “All About The Bass,” the low point is “Mr. Almost,” which is not nearly as clever as any of the other songs on Title.

For other new music, please visit my reviews of:
Sparks - Imogen Heap
Sucker - Charli XCX
Little Secret - Nikki Yanofsky


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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