Shawn Mendes has released his third album, self-titled ‘Shawn Mendes’, and the former vine star has managed to launch himself into our playlists once again.
Featuring tracks including ‘In My Blood’, ‘Lost in Japan’ and ‘Nervous’, the album sets itself apart from its predecessors ‘Handwritten’ and ‘Illuminate’.
Most notably, the album takes on a slight genre shift, moving away from pop while embracing the electric guitars and backing vocals of rock that would usually be associated with a band like Kings of Leon. Although Mendes’s musical shift is noticeable when listening, it’s not off-putting. In fact, the album acts as a testament to the effectiveness of mixing different genres and styles to create incredibly unique sounding tracks.
Although it’s hard to budge from the pop classics ‘Stitches’ and ‘Treat You Better’, Mendes shows he’s more than a Viner turned music artist now. It’s refreshing to hear the development that’s been made here and for long-time fans, it feels as though we’ve grown with each album, and, well, we’re not kids anymore.
This is particularly evident in the lead single ‘In My Blood’, the first song of the album released by Mendes in March 2018 as a teaser of more to come. The song grapples with the feeling of anxiety but ultimately hope. In an interview with Beats 1 on Apple music, Mendes said, “the only way things are going to get better is if we’re more honest.”
Mendes also opened up about his struggle with anxiety and how it’s impacted his song-writing. “It’s kind of something that hit me within the last year,” he said.
“I knew people who had suffered from anxiety and found it kind of hard to understand… That song is complete truth and the best thing about it is it’s not all down, you know? The whole reason I wrote this song was to be like, in the end, it’s not in my blood to do that.”
‘Where Were You in the Morning?’ also grapples with the more mature thoughts and feelings of life, addressing the feeling of loneliness. Although the song features an upbeat chorus, it’s hard to deflect from the fact that Mendes is ultimately singing about being left alone here. Not only does this song show the development of Mendes’s style, with its move away from the more acoustic sounds of previous albums, but it also exemplifies the more grown-up nature of the new album in general.
Despite the leaps and bounds made in terms of the music’s maturity, Mendes hasn’t completely given up on the acoustic ballads just yet. ‘Fallin’ All In You’ is an instant hit and shows Mendes is still in touch with his roots, coupling the infamous acoustic guitar with a vocal performance reminiscent of the debut track ‘Life of the Party’, released at the beginning of Mendes’s professional career in June 2014.
‘Youth’, one of the albums closing tracks, is also particularly powerful. Created in collaboration with chart-topper Khalid, the song addresses the heart-wrenching topic of school shootings in the US. The song was released as the 3rd single in the run-up to the album, with a percentage of sales donated to the March for Our Lives charity. At the Billboard Awards, the duo took to the stage in a moving performance with the Santa Fe High School choir, whose school was the victim of a shooting in May 2018.
The 5th track on the album titled ‘Like To Be You’ sees Mendes collaborate with Julia Michaels in a song that’s reminiscent of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, the hit song of yesteryear that featured Camila Cabello just before her departure from Fifth Harmony. This track, in particular, is one that veteran Mendes fans will appreciate, drawing on the catchy rhythms and lyrics that underpinned much of Mendes’s older music.
Overall, ‘Shawn Mendes’ is a great album that shows Mendes’ development as an artist when compared to his earlier work. A testament to the increasing maturity of his music that old-school fans can empathise with, coupled with some powerful collaborations, the album looks to be another hit Shawn Mendes can add to his list.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
‘Shawn Mendes’ is available to purchase and stream on iTunes and Spotify now.
By Kyle Arthur
Images provided by Shawn Mendes/Twitter