In the music industry, the second album is everything. While your debut album puts your name on everyone’s lips, it’s the second that’s truly make or break. When Zedd finally released Clarity in 2012, it confirmed to the world what dance fans already knew: Zedd (real name Anton Zaslavski) was a force to be reckoned with. The titular track featuring Foxes earned him his first GRAMMY for Best Dance Recording in 2014, cementing his status as a household name. Two and a half years later, True Colors sets out to keep the ball rolling.
While the lead single “I Want You to Know” featuring Selena Gomez is being properly rinsed all over mainstream radio, breaking into the Top 20 of every Billboard chart it qualifies for, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg for True Colors. The album opens with “Addicted to a Memory” featuring Bahari, which tantalizes listeners with its unexpected melody. Like many songs on the album, Zedd blends pop and electronic influences. If his songs continue to reach terrestrial radio (as they should), then the public will be forced to make way for heavy synth breakdowns in-between catchy lyrics from Bahari and Gomez. It’s a bold move from any electronic artist, but Zedd has more than enough clout to pull it off and really bring a new wave of electronic music to the masses.
Speaking of power plays, Zedd ventures out into more unchartered territory on “Transmission,” where he layers a catchy hook and a rap verse from Logic & X Ambassadors under disco synths and a mercurial bass line that screams Daft Punk and Justice. True Colors keeps the momentum going on “Done With Love,” as the songwriting only gets better the further in you go. It’s truly incredible how many instruments and sounds Zedd manages to use on the album without overpowering each track.
As the first half of the album is rooted in the dance/pop hybrid, the tide changes on the its namesake “True Colors.” Sometimes you forget just how much of an actual musician Zedd is until you hear tracks like this and “Papercut.” As one of the first to hear the latter during the Zedd True Colors Scavenger Hunt in Philadelphia, this track holds the most meaning for me. As he explained during the listening party, “Papercut” is the cornerstone of the album, as it’s both the longest and most cinematic piece. For seven and a half minutes, Zedd creates a full-length journey, with a complex mid-section that really displays his talents as a composer, not just a songwriter. Since it’s expected of a dance artist to produce an album of dance tracks, the beauty of True Colors lies in the album’s core, woven into the bow strings of the violins on “Daisy.”
Though it’s hard to pick a breakout track of the album, “Bumble Bee” certainly leads the pack. There are many vocalists featured throughout, from Selena Gomez to Echosmith, but “Bumble Bee” is the only collaboration on the album, with the honor going to Canadian pair Botnek. Known for their much more aggressive approach, the track really stands out from the others, evoking feelings of “Shave it Up” from Clarity.
Overall, True Colors properly straddles the line between pop and electronic music. Zedd does well to combine all his influences, as well as collaborate with all-star cast to create another album of timeless music. As dance music continues to permeate the airwaves, expect more than one song from True Colors to feed the masses this summer. You can buy True Colors now on iTunes and buy tickets to his fall US tour here.