Review: Zedd – True Colors

Zedd’s second studio album, True Colors, shows anything but the artist’s true colors.

First off, sorry about the delay in album reviews.  I had to take a break from writing because I had to do a little thing called work.  A lot.  That’s no excuse, though. We’re going back to a review a day starting today.  Let’s go!

Electronica is one of my guilty pleasures.  Yes, it’s all predictable, the buildups, the sirens, the boom-hiss beats, the spacey/dreamy synthesizers.  Unless Glitch Mob or Ulver hits the speakers, you’re not going to tell yourself, “damn, I’ve never heard this before.” Go ahead and argue with me on that. Electronica is all about atmosphere, occasionally tapping into progressive ventures, but usually following the aforementioned industry standards.  And that’s why I listen to the genre. The atmosphere.

Keys of the North, Anton Zaslavski AKA Zedd (bad pun, I know.  Maybe my break should’ve been longer), is one of those house/trance/progressive house hybrids, complete with an arsenal of celebrity features.  After his breakout production credit, “Break Free,” the Russian electronicer — can we start that word trend here? — has since produced two albums.  The first, Clarity, was burdened by generic beats, even more generic melodies, and an overabundance of cheese.  Due to House music’s overwhelming popularity, the room for innovation is slim.  I can’t stress that enough.  Yes, Zedd’s music is currently successful, but while other artists like Avicii, DeadMau5, and Skrillex have distinct, pioneering sounds, Zedd stands as just another DJ, a collection of stereotypes for club playlists. That’s where Zedd’s problem starts and ends.  Yep, coming out harsh this time.

Ugh, I can’t believe I just described Skrillex as a musical pioneer.

2015’s True Colors delves even further into electronic purgatory, occasionally serving up a catchy tune, but otherwise branding itself as more of a collection of sounds than an album. With True Colors, Zedd shows that he is more of a producer than a songwriter, as evident in his multiple guest appearances and single productions.  I know Zedd can write some damn good beats, but complete, coherent songs with distinct sound? Not on his first two outputs, at least.  And that should make Zedd fans nervous.  The album appeals to the casual, pop friendly listener, whispering into the ears with shallow melodies and simple arrangements.  The opening track, “Addicted to Memory” throws in some noodlery here and there, but other than that, there’s not much moving True Colors from bubble gum pop territory.

Yet, this isn’t a record that intends to push the industry forward, but rather do what house music was intended: to get the molly-salivating club goers jumping.  With that in mind, the album succeeds. “Paper Cut” is one of those dreamy, trance tracks that, for the first time in my first album listen, I didn’t roll my eyes.  The song’s piano intro offers some ear candy before the thumping beat hits, climaxing with a Coldplay-esque atmosphere and interesting vocals from Troye Sivan. Let’s go into featured vocals for a minute.  If there’s one thing about music that I don’t give a shit about, it’s featured vocals.  Anyways, Zedd has worked with Ellie Goulding and everyone else under the sun.  Cool.  But, the question is:  do these “artists” make the song better?  Often, the label uses celebrity vocals as marketing bait or favor shedding.  Financially, why the hell not?  That’s where Selena Gomez-led track, “I Want You to Know,” treads.  Music aside, the song serves as nothing more than a tool to hit the American market, because — hey — Selena was down with Bieber.  And Bieber = album sales.  Okay, that rants done.  In regards to the track, “Daisy,” I’ll provide a one word review:

Cheese.

The fact that True Colors is so straight forward earns the record a point.  The album is meant to be listened to in a club atmosphere, and it works in that regard, with plodding beats and ascending melodies. However, in regards to direction, Zedd taps into the well of generic songwriting, producing an uninspired, generic output.  But what the hell do I know? The airwaves will still play “I Want You to Know” until your ears bleed.

RATING:  1.5/5

Disclaimer:  Featured image and all its content, properties, and rights belong to the artist.  Image found on http://www.youredm.com/2015/04/14/zedd-revives-his-electro-house-filth-on-addicted-to-memory/. I have, in no way, used said image for profit.

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