Review Summary: Shawn Mendes Does Not Give Much More Than a Name on Self-Titled Album
Shawn Mendes seems to know he’s famous. With two multi-platinum albums and a world tour, who wouldn't? But if you already know you're famous, and everyone else knows you're famous...why self-title your third album? Usually, when an artist self-titles an album part-way into their career, they have run out of artistic steam. They cannibalize their own fame to sell records, instead of using an actual theme or idea. What comes after that?
Mendes feigns personal growth on his self-titled third album by writing about adult subject matter instead of teen angst. He disguises the same insubstantial material with "Where Were You in the Morning?" (on his most recent album) instead of "I Don't Even Know Your Name" (on his first album). Shawn showed promise on his first album. The dub step driven ballad “Life of the Party” showcased inner contemplation in pop songwriting. But on his third album, Shawn leaves behind the introspection of "Life of the Party" for contrived sonic experimentation. No one wants to see that from someone who got famous playing guitar on Vine.
R n B and funk influences on the album feel contrived, much like the name of the album. A self-titled work implies a reinvention or rebirth. That may have been what Shawn was going for, with "Lost in Japan" featuring bluesy backing vocals and increased production, absent on his first two (mostly) acoustic albums. But ultimately, songs like "Nervous" and "Queen" show that Shawn hasn't come very far since his first album. Don't get me wrong- they're not bad songs- catchy, acoustic, and radio-ready. But they're Shawn Mendes songs. We knew what we'd be getting. Maybe it makes sense that the album is self-titled after all.