Shamir | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, July 22nd, 2024  



Oct 02, 2020 Shamir Bookmark and Share

Shamir begins with a gasp for breath. At just 25, Shamir Bailey has jumped over his fair share of hurdles. From being dropped from XL Recordings after refusing to replicate his break-out LP Ratchet, to suffering a psychotic episode—which resulted in a bi-polar disagnosis—and to just generally being a non-binary, Black, queer artist in an embrassingly homogenous pop sphere—it’s no wonder he needs some air.

And although dealt an unfortunate hand, Shamir accepted the cards. In fact, he scribbled over the jack, queen, and king, and made an entirely new deck. Over his five-ish years as an artist, Bailey has released seven records, each unlike the other. Dancehall, lo-fi pop, indie, punk—you name it, Shamir has tried it. This is what happens when you mature. You swap out your shoes until you find the right size, the right style. Right now, Shamir seems to be the perfect fit.

Barely reaching 30 minutes, every move Bailey makes seems intentional. For example: the cheeky slurp starting “Paranoia,” the track preceded by “Jungle Pussy,” an interlude consisting of a brief conversation about “jungle pussy juice.” On a grander scale, the record maintains a rollicking momentum without ever coming off glib. Garage-pop “On My Own” is driven by a Pixies-esque guitar that is backed by pummeling drums that soon float into a harmonied chorus with snares acting as would-be claps. “Running” and “Pretty When I’m Sad” (one of the catchiest tracks on the album) join in on the 2000s punk groove, but this time with a splash of synth. “Cuz you’re pretty when your mad, and I’m pretty when I’m sad/So let’s fuck around inside each others heads,” Bailey sings in his signature semi-abrasive, but imitable timbre.

What seems to be the underlying spark that ignites Bailey’s jubilance is the almost productive source of indignation. On rock-ballad “I Wonder” Bailey ponders over a groovy midi-beat if love will “be the death of me.” The Americana twang of “Other Side” finds Bailey sacrificing himself for a greater good: “God knows I tried/My best…./Wasn’t ready for goodbye and now it’s goodbye.” And then in the finale “In This Hole,” strings accompany Bailey’s lament for his misfortunes. But, he ultimately knows he’ll come out stronger: “And one day I will enjoy the sun, and I’ll let it burn me/And I will be one with the filth that lit us up.”

At the end of the day, Shamir is a pop album. One might find that to be diminutive, but, hopefully, we’ve entered a time where this qualifier no longer equates to a contrived, soulless piece. Pop is popular—and Shamir should be just that. Throughout the album Bailey grows before our eyes, carefully performing the tricks he’s mastered within his multifarious repertoire of sounds. But the product is succinct. Catchy. Honest. It’s simply Shamir. (

Author rating: 8/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 4/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.