With Zedd behind the boards, even Tom Waits could make a feel-good summer hit: Everything the 25-year-old German producer handles, from his own 2013 smash “Clarity” to Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” last year, turns to candy-rave gold. True Colors, Zedd’s second LP, includes songs about love, breakups and seizing the day, but the real subject is always his enormous beats. Opener “Addicted to a Memory” drifts toward industrial noise, then introduces nuclear-meltdown sirens and prog keyboards. “Straight Into the Fire,” a highlight, fakes you out with synth arpeggios before bursting into an ecstatic, confetti-covered hook.
That Midas touch comes with a price. Though he cycles through a major-label budget’s worth of sounds and vocalists (including Selena Gomez and earnest rapper Logic), Zedd’s colors are often hard to tell apart. Eight songs in, he overcompensates with “Papercut,” a seven-and-a-half-minute piano intermission that’s too much ballad and not enough power. It’s eventually succeeded by the jolting “Bumble Bee,” which races forward like a reckless bender after a bad breakup. The song’s energy suggests that the Cyndi Lauper nod in the album’s title might not be a coincidence. Zedd just wants to have fun.