Shawn Mendes has spent the last five years evolving into the man and artist that he is now. His fourth studio album ‘Wonder’ is his most musically ambitious record yet, and hears him slightly steering away from from the acoustic foundations of his previous material. Diving into a more fulfilled pop sound with an orchestral and cinematic edge, this body of work is very much intended for the live stage.
From the pulsating rhythm of ‘Higher’, ‘Call My Friends’, ‘Piece Of You’, and ‘Teach Me To Love’ to the dreamy soundscapes of ’24 Hours’, ‘Dream’ and ‘Look Up At The Stars’, it becomes immediately obvious that there is a very visual entity to what they’re trying to succeed with on this record. ‘Always Been You’ is one of Mendes’ strongest tracks to date, and impressed with it’s grand burst of production that would make it a perfect opening track for his live show.
However some of the sonical experimentation doesn’t completely land like the very bland ‘Monster’ with Justin Bieber, and the Christmas sounding ‘Song For No One’ with the jingle bells which will 100% trigger me if I hear it out of December.
His self titled record impressed lyrically with its heartfelt and honest approach to love, heartbreak, and anxiety, but this record is sadly lacking that sincerity. It’s very vanilla and hears vague lyrics like “Hello, hello, hello. Walking through a meadow, full of sunflowers, picking off the petals” and “Look up at the stars, they’re like pieces of art” filling the space. He gets lost within the imagery and general aesthetic of the songs that no personality or genuine emotions are in tact. This may have been the direct result of deciding to not work with Teddy Geiger on this record, and only working with male collaborators.
The tight production and earworm melodies are there, but what’s lacking is the genuine heart. I wanted to feel in love with him, to feel sad, confused and heartbroken too. I wanted to be taken on a journey while also learning about what was happening in his life, and what he was actually feeling. Instead we’ve got a vague description of the emotions he wanted to try convey with an excerpt of words from a thesaurus.
‘Wonder’ may not be the reflective and personal unravelling that his self-titled record explored, but it is going to give us a brilliant live show that may see him coming out of his shell more as a performer.