Displaying a professional savvy her cheerfully naïve persona belies, Meghan Trainor ditches the retro sensibilities that fueled her debut album, Title, on its swiftly released successor, Thank You. By no means has Trainor abandoned her theatricality -- whenever she slides into a purportedly soulful slurred vocal, she lets slip her stagy artifice -- but drama club exuberance is as inherent to Meghan's persona as Katy Perry's cheerleader pinup is to hers. The key to Thank You is that she's swapped out Glee-ful retro pageantry in favor of modern R&B shepherded by executive producer Ricky Reed. Such a shift in sensibility means Thank You feels fresher than Title, and it's more coherent, too: everything stems from a clean, stylish sensibility. Even when she indulges in a throwback, as when the lights lower for the slow dance "Hopeless Romantic," the simple guitar and vocal arrangements function as a sly accent to the bright, bustling surroundings of the rest of Thank You. Trainor similarly rejiggers her lyrical outlook, leaving behind the attention-grabbing jokes and jibes, not to mention the antiquated sentiments of "Dear Future Husband," but the empowerment of "All About That Bass" has calcified into narcissism. Her self-regard abounds. "If I was you, I'd want to be me too," she sings on "Me Too," only to up the ante with "I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, I love all y'all me the most." Even her mom is better than your mom. True, all these odes to self are designed to boost the self-esteem of her audience, but presented as an album, the positivity turns preening. That's where Trainor's pop instincts come into play. Thank You camouflages all this vanity as shiny, happy pop, equal parts modern R&B and Y2K throwback. Taken on a track by track basis, it can be silly fun -- even such goofball party numbers as "Dance Like Yo Daddy" contain a guileless charm -- but as a collective, Thank You turns into something less than the sum of its parts almost entirely due to the Trainor's tunnel vision. She's smart to keep things light and positive -- it's a deliberately youthful sound in an era that yearns for maturity -- but by working the same territory so carefully, the seams in her construction are difficult to ignore.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: LunchMoney Lewis