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Shawn Mendes’ new album screams John Mayer

By Zoe Graves, Managing Editor

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Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes made a name for himself with his first two upbeat pop anthems, such as “Stitches” and “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back.” However, the 19-year-old’s recently released third album, “Shawn Mendes” strays away from the generic sounds heard on his previous albums, opting for a more light, folk-esque aesthetic.

“Shawn Mendes” is something completely different from anything Mendes has done before. He’s no stranger to softer love songs, but his self-titled album is filled with mellow tunes that don’t quite blend together. The album seems confused, unsure about who Shawn Mendes really is and who he’s trying to be. There are traces of his bubblegum pop roots, but they’re mixed with slower ballads and funky guitar lines that don’t mix well.

There are only a few high-energy songs on the album, three of the four having been singles released before the album. “In My Blood,” the first single Mendes released in anticipation of his third record, has sat atop charts and been featured on playlists for weeks, and is a fan favorite. “Youth” features Khalid, and is one of two songs with features on the album. Echoing a message of unity during the tough political times in our country, Mendes and Khalid’s voices create an anthem that is truly the highlight of the album.

Mendes has always been a fan of more acoustic instrumentals in his music, as he’s scarcely seen without a guitar when on stage. However, he seems to have taken it overboard on the new album. It’s overly filled with flowery background lyrics and deep choruses that center around the topics of love and heartbreak.

On tracks like “Particular Taste” and “Lost In Japan,” the 19-year-old sounds like he’s trying too hard to be a mix between Ed Sheeran and John Mayer. Mayer is also featured as a guest guitarist on “Like To Be You,” which also has vocals from Julia Michaels. The cross between pop and R&B seems alien for Mendes, and is a drastic change for listeners who have been with him in the beginning.

Overall, “Shawn Mendes” was a let down. After two albums, Mendes needed to do something fresh to ensure a lasting career, but this seemed like too drastic a change. It’s his attempt to show that he’s growing up, both emotionally and as a musician, but it’s too much too quickly. He’s only 19, and has plenty of time to experiment throughout his — hopefully — lengthy career. For right now, the self-titled album fell flat.

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