A virtual unknown at the time of his 2012 debut, German-Russian producer Zedd has since won a Grammy Award, been invited to work his magic on records by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, and become an unlikely tabloid favorite thanks to his relationship with former Disney tween-queen Selena Gomez. Expectations, therefore, are much higher for his second album, True Colors.
Adhering to the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach, the follow-up to Clarity follows a similar template as its predecessor – pumping beats, minor chord synths and epic pop choruses delivered by an array of guest singers.
Of course, featuring a slightly flat vocal turn from his current beau and a co-writing credit from hitmaker Ryan Tedder, recent single “I Want You To Know” has inevitably attracted the most attention. But there’s plenty more generic EDM-lite anthems where that came from, whether it’s the video game soundtrack vibes of opener “Addicted to a Memory,” the Swedish House Mafia-esque “Beautiful Now” or the Daft Punk-inspired robotics of “Done With Love.”
However, the 25-year-old occasionally shows signs that he’s capable of elevating himself above the usual generic Vegas superclub headliners. “Papercut” is a lush chill-out affair featuring YouTube star-turned-credible alt-R&B crooner Troye Sivan. “True Colors” is an intriguing blend of tumbling drums, church bells and angsty female vocals which could have escaped from a 90s banshee classic, while closer “Illusion” combines the sultry tones of Echosmith’s Sydney Sierota with a twinkling Balearic backdrop perfectly designed for watching a Mediterranean sunset.
True Colors might not reinvent the wheel, and there are times when Zedd is quite clearly cruising on autopilot; but it’s another solid, if unspectacular, attempt to conquer the dance floor which should maintain his new-found superstar status, for now at least.