Shawn Mendes’ fourth studio album, Wonder is a maze of sometimes catchy songs – Entertainment News, Firstpost

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Wonder is, overall, a lot less polished than Mendes’ latest or previous album, Illuminate, which had tons of tight-zipped, anxious teenage pop-rock.

Shawn Mendes’ Wonder Album Cover

Perhaps the most tried and tested, but most trusted pop star subject is “How did I get here?” followed by “Will they let me stay?” Megafame is lonely, leaving the faint of heart to wonder if they deserve all the attention given to them. And the mega-drama distorts, making it difficult to assert your identity when the public nature of your work defines you long before you can define yourself.

Shawn Mendes has made hay from this resulting existential uncertainty.

His search – for himself, for love, for approval, for trust – has become the most vivid subject of his music. This was true on his self-titled 2018 album – his third feature, which was throbbing with theatrical pain – and is even more so on his new album, Wonder, a labyrinth of sometimes catchy songs about self-doubt and gloom interspersed with breathless requests for love.

Shawn Mendes' fourth studio album, Wonder is a maze of sometimes catchy songs

Mendes

For Mendes, 22, who has no firm musical ideology beyond up-tempo pop-rock, donning his album anxiously about the fan-star dynamic and the void it masks becomes a position. aesthetic. Words like that are sorry, a little tragic; they require a singing style that is not too exuberant. “You have a million different faces / But they’ll never understand” he sings at the beginning of the sweet heaviness ‘Introduction’ the opening of the album, rendered with the sorrow of the song of the torch. Next is the catchy and soulful title song, the most vigorous song here. He seems more alive when he is in agony: “If I am real / am I speaking my truth or am I filtering what I am feeling? “

This kind of loneliness comes back throughout this album: “Call my friends” concerns what happens when there is no room for a partner on the road to stardom, and “Song for no one” is a fuzzy photocopy of the scary songs Mendes leaned over on his latest album: “I’m on my own / 10 missed calls, a few text messages / None of them is what I’m looking for.”

Wonder is, on the whole, much less successful than the last album of Mendes or the previous one, Enlighten, released in 2016, and still his best work, which featured tons of tight-zipped and anxious teenage pop-rock.

(Although he works with some of the same collaborators including Kid Harpoon, Nate Mercereau and Scott Harris, Teddy Geiger, the songwriter and producer who gave weight and courage to these albums, is notably absent.)

Harry Styles might get the glamorous magazine covers and thirsty memes, but Mendes in general has been a much more compelling avatar of this approach. Styles’ music suggests a perpetual quest for ambient sonic vision, while Mendes, at his best, launched a string of crisp hits.

On this album, however, his lyrics meander and stop far from the real feeling, and his rhythmic deliveries seem less cohesive. He’s still got swell, figuring out how to swell his voice from moaning to chime. But on this inconsistent album, her vocals rarely convey a depth of feeling.

The handful of dippy love songs – ’24 hours,’ chirping like Christmas music, or sock-hop-ready ‘305’ – does not match the mood. The only exception is “Look at the stars”, an ambivalent love song about the relationship between idol and idolaters. “The universe is ours / And I won’t let you down” Mendes sings warmly, like someone who understands – and resigns himself to it – how this dynamic is out of his control.

The most famous male pop star of the past decade is weighed down by a similar ambivalence about success. It would be Justin Bieber, who duet with Mendes on ‘Monster,’ a smoky and sweet mope, with the two singers performing some sort of gut check for their fans. “You put me on a pedestal and tell me I’m the best” Mendes sings, without a glimmer of joy.

Four years and a few lifetimes older than Mendes, Bieber has long been a performer for whom fame itself is the raison d’être, with the music a far second (or fifth, or ninth, at least until Changes Last year). Its verse is more tangy, more nasal: “Lift me up, lift me up and tear me down, tear me down. “ He looks exasperated, because of it. An older brother lets his younger brother know how cruel the world can be. He understands he’s arrived here, and he’s looking for a way out.

Jon Caramanica circa 2020 The New York Times Company

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(All images from Twitter)

(Also read on Firstpost – Netflix documentary Shawn Mendes: In Wonder barely discovers the shiny veneer of musical stardom)


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