Meghan Trainor’s third studio album, Treat Myself, was heavily delayed, produced no hit singles and is regarded as a commercial failure, peaking at number 25 on the Billboard albums chart and falling off only three weeks later. And yet, I find this to be her best work yet. I’m sure most people disregarded this record from the start; coming from an artist that gained the most traction from doo wop inspired singles “All About That Bass” and “Lips Are Movin’”, Meghan Trainor’s music was definitely sticky sweet, at times irritating and maybe even immature, to say the least. The singles from her second record were slightly better, and by that, I mean at least one was good. “No” is a solid dance pop song but where “Me Too” is supposed to be about confidence and self-love, it veers on the side of narcissism instead. These also did not chart any higher than her debut records singles did. After being pushed back a year and a half, I’m sure most people just moved on to the next pop tune and forgot that she even exited.
Treat Myself was supported by a few singles and some live performances, but no tour or any other major promo was announced. Before hearing the full-length record, I had not heard any semblance of what this thing sounds like. Considering the only knowledge I had about Meghan Trainor as an artist was a few songs that played on the radio every once in a while, I actually decided to take a listen to her debut and sophomore effort, Title and Thank You, before this one to get a good idea of what her previous records were like. Title was not horrible, in all honesty much of it was very nicely put together. But I found the doo wop feel of it to be a little overdone at times and her vocal performance was littered with small, random accents and blips. Thank You was different in tone but remarkably similar in content, where it comes of as mostly arrogant. I do have to praise some of the production on it though; some of these are infused with a very slight, Caribbean feel to them that would have made for a stellar album if it was applied to every song. And then, we get to Treat Myself.
This record is a huge step up from the previous two, in every single way. It seems like Meghan has grown plenty over the past few years and her music definitely has as well. “Wave” starts us off with some really cool, dance pop production, followed by another dance-y tune, “Nice To Meet Ya” and “Funk”, which is reminiscent of 90’s pop. The melodies, breakdowns, vocal layering and overall feels of these first three tracks are so much fun, with a very mature and well organized lyrical content as well. A discussion of a broken relationship accompanied by themes of the ocean make up “Wave” where the latter two delve into self confidence and missing an old love. “Babygirl” is another song about self love but whereas her old material like “Me Too” was self centered (whether they intended it to be that way or not), this new material is uplifting and encouraging. To add to all of that, her vocals sound amazing this time around, with such smooth delivery and no awkward adlibs or accents.
There are plenty of other notable tracks on here including “Ashes” which I would describe as a balanced, modern synth pop song. “Here To Stay” has a splendid guitar part and a nice R&B feel, where “Genetics” is an electronic oriented dance track with a European vibe that features Nicole Scherzinger from The Pussycat Dolls. “Blink” is cool in terms of production where the instrumental stops and picks up again, and “Evil Twin” is fun and bright with an equally interesting concept about having an evil twin. We’re even offered a ballad with “After You”, which is just wonderful and so pretty. There are only a few spots that I found to be awkwardly put together, such as “Workin’ On It” and “Lie To Me” but those moments don’t completely distract from the rest of the perfectly produced pop tunes.
Was a year and a half delay worth the wait for this album? Absolutely. This time around, I feel like we finally have a good idea of who Meghan Trainor really is, as a lyricist, vocalist and musical artist. This feels like something she worked so hard for and actually wanted to put out. Whereas her first two releases just felt like generic pop most of the time, Treat Myself is comprised of well rounded, evenly produced dance tunes that showcase her ability to create her own space in the pop genre. This is really the best kind of pop music; fun and entertaining, serious where it needs to be, with well thought out lyrics and great vocals. None of this ever comes off as generic, recycled or fabricated. Even though this record didn’t receive the accolades it deserved, at least it’ll remain a hidden gem in the realm of pop music history.