Shamir – Revelations (3 stars)

Shamir – Revelations

Stripped-back indie from the former dance-pop star

When Shamir released his debut album Ratchet back in 2015, there seemed to be an instant frenzy that surrounded the artist, with Pitchfork describing the record as 'the best dance-pop of the past decade'. Fast forward to 2017 and Shamir has shed his 'accidental pop star' skin, embracing a sound that is more raw, real and unapologetic in both its composition and delivery.

Many of the tracks on new album Revelations are a far cry from the infectious kitsch of Ratchet's lead single 'On The Regular', taking a more stripped-back approach that places a heavy emphasis on emotional depth. Opener 'Games' sets the pace with its minimal keyboard chimes accompanying Shamir's trademark falsetto, at times providing an almost eerie dissonance between the two. This simplicity is a key element of Revelations but not one that diminishes the impact of the album as a whole. Instead, the unembellished and understated nature of the instrumentation provides a texture that is warm and sonorous.

'You Have a Song' has a 90s grunge feel to it, with fuzzy guitars and prominent bass lines that continue in tracks like the sun-bleached 'Blooming' and lo-fi 'Her Story'. Lead single '90's Kids' is a tongue-in-cheek ballad, detailing the anxieties and clichés of millennial life, with its chorus emphatically stating 'fuck you, we out here strugglin'. Closing track 'Straight Boy' is a candid finish to the album where Shamir offers up some real truths about the unnecessary focus that straight men place on how they're viewed by others.

Overall, Revelations can be viewed as a more developed version of Shamir's self-released second record Hope. There isn't a huge amount of variation between tracks but it's still positive to see Shamir continue to undertake such a progression from dance-pop to indie and disco synth to dense, hazy guitars, without losing his penchant for penning a good pop melody.

Out now on Father/Daughter Records.

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