Andy Grammer

Naïve

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Andy Grammer named his third album Naïve in an attempt to reclaim the word. Grammer's argument is that it's a positive to always look on the bright side of life, so if naysayers label him naïve, well, he'll just lean into that criticism. What this means as a listening experience is a bit harder to parse. Naïve certainly is a brighter, bouncier affair than The Good Parts, the 2017 album that took pains to demonstrate that Grammer was a much more mature and thoughtful singer/songwriter than his novelty hit "Honey, I'm Good" suggested. The return of a light touch is welcome on Naïve, but Grammer isn't a party guy. That much is clear from "My Hero," which spins the cavernous clamor of Imagine Dragons into affirmational pop. Affirmations are a big thing for Grammer. When he sings "Wish You Pain," it's only because he loves you so much that he wants you to grow, get better, and evolve. It's the language of positivity and it flows throughout Naïve, evident even when the surfaces are chilly and steely, which they often are. Grammer strategically fuses Ryan Tedder's slick gloss with the oversized wallop of the Imagine Dragons, using rappers Andy Mineo & Swoope and Ladysmith Black Mambazo as stylistic accents. It's enough to add some stylistic variety, but Naïve is unified by Grammer's self-belief, which is so all-consuming, it's supposed to function as a design for life for the at-home listener. Whether Naïve winds up as a self-help album depends entirely on whether it's possible to see yourself within the reflection of its glassy surfaces.

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