Revelations is a record of great vulnerability, and with that, great honestyFather/Daughter Records

I don’t know a lot about the recording process but I imagine that recording an album like Revelations in two weeks, as Shamir did, had as much coffee and adrenaline as a Week-Five essay crisis. Yet none of that is reflected in Shamir’s latest release, which feels beautifully paced and carefully constructed.

It is difficult not to be impressed by the 23-year-old musician with three albums already under his belt; he seems largely untouched by categorisation, drawing on aspects of genres as diverse as rock’n’roll and electronica, yet refusing to be defined by any of them, melding styles to create something entirely different. His distinctive style seems accidentally innovative; foremost, it seems to be a representation of Shamir – everything else is a by-product. It is hard to believe that this is the same Shamir who released electronic disco tracks such as ‘On The Regular’ and ‘Hot Mess’ in 2015, but Revelations doesn’t feel like a reinvention; it is more the big reveal that the title suggests. Every emotion in the music sings out like it is the truth – there is a real vulnerability to this album, which feels both universally natural and intensely personal to Shamir.

“Shamir’s movement away from a linguistic storytelling into an ambient emotional narrative is absorbing and captivating”

Yet despite the natural rhythm to the album, the construction of the songs is meticulous. The presence of Buddy Holly in ‘Blooming’ or Green Day in ‘You Have a Song’ shows an enormous debt to his predecessors, but he never lets it overpower his individual voice; he never pays homage, but uses these styles to create a musical emotion.

The lyrics feel irrelevant to the album; they verge on banality, and Shamir’s diction is unimpressive. Yet his vocal is the standout feature of the album – it is androgynous and elusive, its ambiguous tonality taking on the full range of human emotion where arbitrary chord progressions cannot. His rejection of computerisation as well as typical melody allows him to reach out to the listener with a natural feeling, and there is a sense that we are listening to something intensely private.

The opening track, ‘Games’, is a high point; the dynamics and the tone of his voice respond to the emotion of the song rather than the didactic score, and the result is a musical narrative of emotion. It’s a brave opening number, but it sets the tone for an innovative album and instantly draws you in to nine tracks of intimacy. Shamir’s movement away from a linguistic storytelling into an ambient emotional narrative is absorbing and captivating.

“This album is imperfect, but its imperfections suggest an artist not yet matured”

The album never quite recreates the vulnerability of ‘Games’, however; Shamir becomes a little more tonal and bland towards the end of the album and doesn’t utilise the emotional power of his voice fully as we know he can.

Furthermore, in places the album feels a little rough – the abrupt ending of the songs feels less like a stylistic choice and more like an acceptance of convention, while the tracks gain a certain homogeneity. The beautiful structure of each song is not echoed in the album’s construction, which would have benefitted from a little more time in the recording studio.


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Nonetheless, there are nuggets of gold to be found: the drumbeat at the end of ’90’s Kids’ has the pulsing throb of a heartbeat, and the backing singers’ permeation of the soundscape creates a natural, cohesive sound.

This album is imperfect, but its imperfections suggest an artist not yet matured; this album is a radical break from the disco of Shamir’s previous work, which he acknowledged was unnatural to him, and whilst his style is already distinctive there is a sense that Shamir is only starting to develop what could become one of pop’s most innovative voices

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