Shamir: Heterosexuality (Self-Released) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, June 21st, 2024  




Feb 14, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue Bookmark and Share

The question of why Shamir Bailey isn’t a bigger star by now needs answering. Throughout a back catalogue of daring moves that have almost always landed, the Las Vegas native has built a discography of varied textures and unapologetically queer anthems.

And yet, at a time when his art is most needed, the arena shows and “household name” label have passed him by. On new album Heterosexuality, Bailey is at his most stoic. Finding strength in the pain of modern queer existence, the 27-year-old crafts an album of considered celebration and defiant indulgence.

Striking a vocal tone that exists in a unique space between Prince and Janis Joplin, there is noticeably more grit in the voice on this album than was present on his debut full-length, the dance-pop inflected Ratchet.

The years since that 2015 breakthrough have seen Bailey tread the road less travelled, and the artistry that has followed has increased its intrigue as a result. To go from a record like Ratchet to the lo-fi stylings of 2017’s duo releases Hope and Revelations is hardly the trajectory anyone would’ve envisaged for him.

And, a few more albums down the line, Heterosexuality feels like the most completely realized of Bailey’s post-Ratchet records. Finding a delicate balance between bombastic ballads (“Cold Brew”), underground art-punk (“Abomination”), glitchy dream-pop (“Caught Up”), and acoustic lullaby (“Father”), Bailey manages to pull off a varied record that never feels disjointed.

The most exciting thing about Bailey is the element of surprise. No matter how far through one of his projects you get, you never feel safe or comfortable that you know what is coming next. His singular artistry deserves to be celebrated by a wider audience. And if records as good as Heterosexuality continue to come along, it won’t be too far in the future when that dam finally breaks. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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