THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE She’s all about a different kind of bass this time, one from the late ’90s.
Meghan Trainor excels at singing about herself.
Her esteem-raising, body-accepting anthem “All About That Bass” was a success on basically every level — topping the charts, landing her critical acclaim and a best new artist Grammy — because she spoke up for herself in her own distinctive voice.
On her follow-up album “Thank You” (Epic), Trainor again succeeds when she’s discussing life in her own style. The first single, “No,” includes her own twists on the usual club tale, using turn-of-the-century Destiny’s Child styling to build a clever tale of empowerment that is so catchy that it’s tough to shake. On “Me Too,” which came with a bit of a shock when the video was released and Trainor (and her legions of fans) found that the director had Photoshopped her body to be a little less curvy, she rides an elastic bass line like early-Aughts Britney Spears, to offer lines like “I can’t help loving myself and I don’t need nobody else” and “If I was you, I’d want to be me too.”
She stays in a similarly positive mood on the catchy “Woman Up,” which combines advice with a retro-Rihanna vibe that works extremely well. She’s equally successful on the sweet, simple ballad “Just a Friend to You.”
Where Trainor comes up short, though, is when her bubbly approach feels like a put-on, the way her hit “Dear Future Husband” seemed slightly off. “Champagne Problems” is a little too cute for its own good as she worries about her Uber being late, faulty Wi-Fi and iPhone battery life. And “I Love Me” is packed with too many cliches and too much padding to be effective.
“Thank You” shows how Trainor has become one of pop’s most skilled young stars at crafting songs for her image, but there is still room to grow.