Zedd • True Colors • Interscope • US Release Date: May 18, 2015
Cutting straight to the chase, Zedd’s sophomore album True Colors is an enjoyable, pleasant listening experience. The pleasantry that it is, that characterization alone doesn’t necessarily make True Colors particularly distinctive per se; many songs run into one another. That isn’t to say Zedd hasn’t attempted to develop distinct personalities for each song nor does it discount his impeccable musicianship, but it means there’s a lack of killer records. Still, True Colors has some fine moments and is worth the spin.
The album opens commandingly with “Addicted To A Memory,” featuring Bahari. The track is solidly assembled, beginning with more of a pop-oriented sensibility, before evolving into Zedd’s electronic fantasies. Zedd’s classical music background definitely shows on this fine opener. “I Want You To Know” featuring Selena Gomez is a success, considering its purpose. Zedd flexes his ‘synth-tastic’ muscles while Gomez sings with poise. Gomez does little revolutionary with her performance, but that seems to “go with the territory” with dance music.
Single “Beautiful Now” featuring Jon Bellion is as enjoyable as everything else, without screaming outright hit – it sort of just floats along. Think of “Beautiful Now” as ‘mild cheddar’ – its tasty, but not a pronounced as say sharp cheddar. Still give it credit as love, lust, and infatuation is definitely in the air: “I see what you’re wearing, there’s nothing beneath it / forgive me for staring, forgive me for breathing.” “Transmission” is arguably more notable, featuring up-and-coming MC Logic and X Ambassadors. Besides sound production, X Ambassadors catchy chorus is a clear-cut selling point. After all, “You’re never too young to die.”
On “Done With Love” Zedd flexes his electro biceps capably, rousing one of the more intriguing productions of True Colors. There’s vox effects galore, slapped bass lines, and dizzying synths among other things. A change of pace, which segues into “True Colors” is further testament to Zedd’s musicianship – the gift of nuance. Though “True Colors” begins enigmatically, it gains more confidence as it progresses. Interestingly, “True Colors” feels less electronically derived than the majority of True Colors, which is thoughtful contrast.
After the chilling “True Colors,” “Straight Into the Fire” accelerates tempo and rhythm, restoring the danceable vibe of the effort. The tone of the synths here in particular is gorgeous and chocked full of enthusiasm – think like a child who just got a brand new toy. The lengthy “Papercut” follows, featuring teen entertainer Troye Sivan. Despite its length, “Papercut” is a highlight, featuring well-paced production work from Zedd and adorned with Sivan’s pipes.
“Bumblebee” (featuring Botnek) is a big ball of energy, providing ample space for Zedd to showcase his sharp production abilities. Chromeo provides the talkbox vocals (“break through”), with “Bumblebee” itself interpolating “Break Through” from Roger Troutman’s 1991 LP Bridging the Gap. Penultimate track “Daisy” has a quiet energy about it, characterized by its poise and brevity. It’s light, but certainly both beautiful and pleasant. The conclusion of “Daisy” segues into “Illusion,” a compelling final statement featuring Echosmith.
Ultimately, True Colors is a solid album without being a game changing one. Some have harshly criticizes the effort, but for the most part, it’s sound minimally. Perhaps it’s not the ‘album of the year’ nor the ‘second coming,’ but there’s enough here to satisfy when it’s all said and done.
Favorites: “Addicted To A Memory,” “I Want You To Know,” “Done With Love,” and “Papercut”