Virgin EMI (label)
25 May 2018 (released)
25 May 2018
Shawn Mendes is one of the runaway success stories from the hey day of Vine. A teenage dreamer, he would post regular covers of his musical icons just for the fun of it all. Little did he know that within a few years he would be the artist being covered by thousands of adoring fans on an assortment of social media platforms. Although he may have made his name as something of a Canadian Ed Sheeran meets Justin Bieber, with addictive and sometimes insightful radio friendly teen pop hits, the now nearly 20 year old Canadian songsmith has decided to make the transition from teen icon to respected muso. But how easy will that be? All his hopes are pinned on his heavily hyped eponymous third studio record...
And it is fair to say that he was wise to pin his hopes on the transition on such a compellingly beautiful recording. Although he has not fully abandoned the easy on the ear guitar singer/songwriter fodder that filled his first two records, it is clear that his head is in a very different space. Unafraid of tackling meatier subject matter and a more diverse sound, this is a very strong step in the right direction.
Having teased the release with a series of single releases, most notably the anthemic In My Blood, which explores his battle with anxiety and the album's most potently different sounding track, Lost In Japan, it was clear from the very outset of the promotional campaign that Mendes was shedding one skin and stepping into another.
Although the album is mostly successful is forging ahead in a new direction, there are a couple of lowlights that really miss the mark. Having teamed up with Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid for Fallin' All In You, Mendes shows that the generic sound that could have worked on his first two records simply is not strong enough for this far more striking collection. Equally lacklustre is the Julia Michaels duet Like To Be You, which once again shows he should simply buck the current trends and step out in his own direction.
While the album may not be flawless, a collection of songs that feature the unforgettable In My Blood, Lost In Japan and Where Were You In The Morning is a must-have for all record collections. Shawn Mendes has stepped out of his comfort zone, and in doing so shown his true colours as an artist.