Posted on May 15th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Michael Negron

The turn of the decade was a magical time for electronic music; platforms like Bandcamp and Soundcloud had finally given bedroom producers a shot at their music being heard by a sizable audience, leading to an explosion of genres in the underground coinciding with the dominance of a very specific one in the mainstream. It’s hard to blame Russian-German producer Zedd for wanting to return to that time. It’s also hard to listen to his latest release, True Colors, and not see it as painfully dated in a style that is itself painfully dated, and punctuated by painfully dated clichés – from banal and occasionally obnoxious guest appearances to vapid and cringe-inducing lyrics – delivered in what is quite possibly the most cynical release of the year.

Nailing down what’s wrong with True Colors is simple to understand but hard to explain, mainly because it’s not so much what it does as what it is. One thing that encapsulates this is, much like its predecessor Clarity, True Colors is already being erroneously assigned labels such as “complextro.” At least that earlier album did have progressive leanings and fiddled with a few genres – trance most notably, or at least most successfully – subsequently offering up something worthwhile. In this new release, what few ideas existed outside of Zedd’s already limited repertoire of “wobble over unimaginative house beat” and “someone (usually a girl) singing over an interchangeable synth or piano line” have been squashed into manufactured, manic joy. Layering has gone with this too, more often than not leaving songs alternating between those two gimmicks again and again. Almost as though it’s trying to fit that narrative, even the production is crushed and lifeless.

So, what does Zedd do to compensate for an obvious lack of ideas? Guest spots! That’s right, if you loved the blatant commercialism of The Path of Totality, but thought maybe Skrillex was a little too low-profile, boy are you in for a treat! For the rest of you, let’s just say, the guest spots don't add much. What little that's added is exclusively Tim James, thankfully owning one of the only worthwhile tracks – the title track. Selena Gomez, on the other hand, well…have you ever watched Getaway? She stars in that too. Go watch that, then force the image of Jon Voight slobbering on pastries into your head and that’s about the same level of enjoyment as you’ll experience.

True Colors doesn’t fail because it’s boring. It is boring, but what’s significantly worse is its utter and unapologetic soullessness. Every decision feels forced at best, contrived, and downright manipulative at worst. Zedd isn’t the first to try to mass-produce happiness, except for when, of course, he decides to pull a 180 and be “Done With Love.” He is, unfortunately, emblematic of everything wrong with the music industry: despite winning a Grammy and occasionally being labelled “The Next Big Thing,” he pulls from the same bag of tricks that every other artist does when they run out of steam two albums earlier but have to put something out – and this is his second album. To that point, Zedd has made decent material – look to his EPs prior to Clarity – but that doesn’t excuse True Colors from being a cynical, offensive, and simply terrible piece of marketing disguised as music.

Track List:

  1. Addicted to a Memory (feat. Bahari)
  2. I Want You To Know (feat. Selena Gomez)
  3. Beautiful Now (feat. Jon Bellion)
  4. Transmission (feat. Logic & X Ambassadors)
  5. Done With Love
  6. True Colors (feat. Tim James)
  7. Straight Into The Fire
  8. Papercut (feat. Troye Sivan)
  9. Bumble Bee
  10. Daisy
  11. Illusion (feat. Echosmith)
Zedd - True Colors Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

18 / 100
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