Album Album Review: Shawn Mendes – “Illuminate” Posted by Staff at Trendio • September 23, 2016

He may have just turned 18 in August but Shawn Mendes processes a musical mind of much ingenuity. Though many are quick to assume his music is skewed for a much younger generation (think Justin Bieber when he first started), Mendes has been kicking ass behind the scenes, pushing lyrical boundaries which set him apart from his musical peers.

First coming to attention in 2014, after being discovered through popular social video app Vine, the Canadian singer-songwriter steadily built a reputation for himself, releasing his debut album Handwritten in April 2015. With the album’s successful release, he became the youngest artist since fellow Canadian Justin Bieber to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 album chart in nearly five years.

The year is now 2016. Following various teasers, Mendes announced his sophomore album, helmed “Illuminate.” While the album was set to land Sept. 23, it’s lead single, titled Treat You Better, saw an official release on June 3, following an buzz-worthy marketing campaign involving Shazam. The aptly-named Treat You Better was Mendes’ way of letting us knowing his album Illuminate will be one of this year’s very best collectives – a promise, delivered.

Treat You Better was subsequently followed by Mercy, essentially another explosive demonstration of the singer’s blossoming zeal to remain a household name. It worked because this time, he caught our full-term attention, stamping out his territory in our hearts.

Artist: Shawn Mendes
Genre: Blissful Pop
Release: September 23, 2016
Label: Island Records

Often times, after two fantastic songs are released off an album, the third is usually a maybe good but not-as fantastic one. This was not the case with “Illuminate” as each newly-released track came packing punches within its own uniquely-crafted identity. The tracks that followed the aforementioned – the softly caressing Ruin, emotionally-charged Three Empty Words, and the chilling Don’t Be A Fool – fully helped champion Mendes’ new mature sound, an impressive and notable change from his Handwritten days.

Mendes put his evidently top notch songwriting skills to the test with “Illuminate,” contributing to the writing of every single track on the album – verifying his status as an ‘artist,’ three steps up from being just a ‘singer.’

With tracks like “Roses,” “Like This,” and “Hold On,” the singer established that big is not necessarily better. In other words, a soulful approach with a pointed lyrical flair could be just as powerful/effective. On polished pop gems Patience, No Promises, the singer takes a ridiculously-smooth approach supported by the most elegant (and enchanting) build as he vocals guide you into a new utopia.

Elsewhere, the singer longed for a girl with a “Bad Reputation,” belting out notes of epic proportions as he croons, “I don’t care what they say about you baby / They don’t know what you’ve been through / Trust Me I could be the one to treat you like a lady.”

The album ends with the subtle but powerful Understand, a take me to church reminder that Shawn Mendes certainly has come a long way.

Bottom Line

Shawn Mendes is no cookie-cutter pop artist deemed as just an Internet sensation. Perfecting his own sound amidst a bevy of influences, the singer illuminates on his on follow-up album, full of stadium-sighted pop songs which ascend into the higher places before plummeting down to blissful valleys below. While not straying away from his Handwritten pop roots, 18-year-old Mendes has certainly found himself as not just your average internet sensation but more, a lot more.


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