Remember when Meghan Trainor released a bizarre, super-horny press release to accompany ‘All The Ways’, the lead single from last year’s sentimental stop-gap EP ‘The Love Train’? No wonder she felt inclined tried to try and satiate fans’ thirst: they’ve waited years for new album ‘Treat Yourself’, which has been plagued with delays.
Trainor’s third album was initially planned to drop in August 2018. It was then pushed back to January 2019, and then again to January 2020, as she wanted to focus on writing more music (or as she put it, to “get everything out of my head and recorded in the studio”). Well, over a year from its initial release date, we now have the record, a lesson in saccharine theatrics stuffed full of insipid songs.
The album teeters throughout on the cusp of sounding like an episode of Glee. ‘Funk’, a cut of funk-indebted pop crammed with bolshy brass licks, spoken-word breakdowns and trite innuendo – including the unsubtle refrain of “I missed the way we used to funk” – is never more than dreary. Then there’s ‘Evil Twin’, a cloying cut of electronic pop that sees Trainor try to distance herself from the sides of her that she doesn’t like, blaming her indiscretions on her evil twin (“She takes control, she’s in my head / Making me make my bad decisions, but I’m innocent”).
Elsewhere there are ballads such as ‘Wave’ – which starts slow before erupting into a tacky house mess that would sound at home soundtracking Love Island – and ‘After You’, a hammed up duet with AJ Mitchell on which the duo proclaims that they’d never love again if they lost their bae. Both are pure High School Musical, only without the fun bits when they play basketball.
Trainor’s also roped in a handful of celebrity pals for the record, and it’s in these moments that ‘Treat Myself’ shows glimpses of the pop star Meghan could be. Nicki Minaj joins her on ‘Nice To Meet Ya’, an R&B bop vaguely reminiscent of Trainor’s 2016 hit ‘No’, injecting a moment of energy onto the album. Meanwhile The Pussycat Dolls pop up on ‘Genetics’, the sexed-up older sister to Trainor’s breakout hit ‘All About That Bass’, which features the poetic rhyming couplet “How you get that bod? / Is it from God?” (the singers eventually reveal that they god their bod through “G-E-N-E-T-I-C-S”, obvs).
But for the most part, the album is sickly sweet and filled with cliché lyrics. ‘Treat Myself’ is a frustrating listen, especially given Trainor’s track record for writing ear-worm pop songs. But no matter – we’ll just blame it on her evil twin, shall we?
Record label: Epic Records