Treat Myself, Meghan Trainor’s third major label studio album, is a departure from her previous work—one that takes her artistry to a new level. Trainor recently married actor Daryl Sabara, and a more mature approach to love is evident in her new work. While some of the new material hits the mark, Trainor lets other tracks fall by the wayside, leaving songs that were intended to stand for social issues shallow and ineffectual.
Although she hasn’t gained as much recognition for her more recent singles as her earlier ones, such as breakout hit “All About That Bass,” which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014, Trainor’s new music shows personal development and a sense of security in her relationship. Treat Myself not only introduces a new chapter in her life, but it also brings fresh ideas to the ever-evolving music landscape.
Trainor’s strategic collaborations on Treat Myself help her stretch her brand from body-positive one-hit wonder to on-trend artist. Trainor teamed up with the first of many young artists on Treat Myself, Mike Sabath, for the album’s opening track, “Wave.” On “Nice to Meet Ya,” Trainor enters the realm of hip-hop music, collaborating with Nicki Minaj to appeal to a wider audience.
To further connect with younger fans, Trainor enlists Lennon Stella (known for her role on Nashville and her collaboration “Takeaway” with The Chainsmokers) and Sasha Sloan (of “Older” fame) for “Workin’ On It,” a slow burn earworm that emphasizes hard work and confidence. The Pussycat Dolls were brought in for “Genetics,” which embraces their mid-2000s sound but features lyrics that leave more to be desired. The final collaboration on the album, “After You,” makes one more effort to catapult Trainor into Generation-Z popularity, featuring 18-year-old AJ Mitchell to help deliver the heartfelt song.
While she’s always had a standout voice, Trainor expertly selected songs for Treat Myself to show off her range. Her emphasis in the past has always been on the virality of her songs, most notably with “All About That Bass,” and while streams are paramount in the music industry, much of her past work has been lacking in emotion. On Treat Myself, that trend continues. Some songs rely more heavily on earworm status over meaning, such as “Genetics” and “Evil Twin,” cheap attempts at viral fame.
Trainor manages to hit the right balance of vocals and emotion on some of the tracks on Treat Myself, with “Ashes” and “Workin’ On It” the obvious standouts, but the dead weight of weaker songs lowers the album. “Funk,” the third track on the album, falls flat compared to the other high notes of the album. Trainor opens the song with eight lines of “I miss the way we used to funk,” and while catchy, the song comes off as slightly off-putting. In the next track on the album, “Babygirl,” Trainor chants “Love Yourself” in a similar, unwanted fashion. Trainor’s efforts to appeal to the masses with messages of self-love and borderline explicit content come across as half-baked, while she very obviously worked much harder on the songs that stand out.
Trainor’s album, initially slated for release in 2018, went through multiple changes as Trainor hadn’t yet found the sound she was hoping for. When speaking with Billboard about Treat Myself, Trainor said, “Every time I accomplished a new step in my songwriting world, my brain would go, ‘Uh-oh, the rest of the album needs to be this good.’ And finally I got to a place where my label and I were like, ‘Okay, I can’t beat these songs.’”
Trainor’s commitment to perfecting her album shines through on most of its collaborative tracks and shows her growth as an artist. With a long four-year wait since her prior album, Trainor set the standards for her new album high, and she met many of them. For each song that could be a little better, there are two that show Trainor’s growth and astounding voice following it. Treat Myself offers a new, talent-driven performance not seen from Trainor before, while still providing the pop-fueled tunes she has built her career on.
Featured Image by Epic Records