18 Apr 2017

Shamir - Hope (album review)

Shamir Bailey’s sophomore LP is a fascinating progression for the Vegas based multi-instrumentalist. The infatuating electro house beats off his debut Ratchet have been traded for lo-fi guitar recordings, but the quirky infectious vocal leads which made the Ratchet one of the greatest debuts of the decade are carried over to his second album entitled Hope.

The music here shines a light of vulnerability on Shamir as an artist and the context given from the moving description attached to this album on soundcloud makes me feel like I shouldn’t be listening to this at all. Hope is clearly very personal to Shamir and I feel privileged to hear it.

The album is all in all stunning from the dramatic guitar lead of the title track all the way to the wistful acoustic ballad Bleed It Out, a perfect closer. The explosion of Shamir’s delicate vocals in the final moments could bring a tear to the eye of the most impenetrable soul.

A prime example of the elite pop melody crafting that came from Shamir’s debut is I Fucking Hate You So Much which is one of the biggest earworms on the record. Like a Bird incorporates a drum machine and tropical sounding synth into its instrumental and it sounds even more beautiful once the heavenly organ chords are layered on top. It would have been nice to hear more moments like this on Hope, but this songs plays nicely and is an interesting detour from the otherwise guitar heavy sounds.

One of the most charming elements of Hope is it’s grace in imperfection whether it be a missed note on the track Ignore Anything or a mere vocal crack on the Blake Babies cover Rain, these tiny moments make this album feel incredibly raw. A lot of the songs here have a 90s alt-rock feel the track One More Times wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an early PJ Harvey record whereas the distortion heavy cut Easier could pass as minimalistic shoegaze.

This is one of the most unexpected changes in sounds I’ve heard from an artist in a long time, but the change is perfectly executed and it makes me hope that Shamir will continue to release art for years to come...

8.1/10

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(Words: Aimee Armstrong)