Introduction:

Shawn Mendes is one of the many burgeoning success stories that comes from internet content creation. The Canadian Mendes was discovered in 2013 when he began posting covers on the social networking app Vine. In 2014, he was signed to Island Records and released his EP The Shawn Mendes EP, followed in 2015 by his debut album Handwritten. Later that year he released a “revisited” edition of the album. In 2016, Mendes released his sophomore effort Illuminate. Both albums were certified platinum by the RIAA. His third, self-titled effort was released on May 28, 2018.

1. In My Blood

In the opening song, Mendes crafts a very emotional portrait of anxiety and self-doubt. The lyricism of the single is absolutely mesmerizing, coupled with his emotional performance and superb production, which utilizes pop drums and electric guitars in a melancholy anthem for the anxious. It’s a fantastic start for this pop effort.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

2. Nervous

The guitars are smooth and chill at the outset as Mendes’ relaxed vocals detail a story about attraction at first sight. His vocals are stellar. The organ-ridden production and flirtatious lyricism join together to create another spectacular single. It’s very catchy and well-written. It’s another perfect song on this record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. Lost in Japan

The second single released is just so well-made. The groovy bass and gentle piano riffs couple together for a very smooth and exotic production. His vocals are smooth and flirtatious again. Shawn Mendes is such a powerful songwriter that can craft such catchy hooks, but also deliver emotional and human stories.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

4. Where Were You In The Morning?

The mix of electric and acoustic guitars is gorgeous and underscore Mendes’ vocals excellently. The songwriting is spot on once again. Mendes delivers another great song for, so far, an unbelievable record.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

5. Like To Be You (ft. Julia Michaels)

Shawn brings the wonderful Julia Michaels on this one. Mendes’ signature electric/acoustic blend is gorgeous, especially when his and Julia’s vocals merge over the top. The two singer/songwriters deliver a very beautiful vignette of star-crossed lovers. The two blend really well together. The songwriting is very sweet and emotional and matches the gentle and flowing production. The two deliver another perfect song for this outstanding record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. Fallin’ All In You

His vocals are stellar yet again and the production underscores it nicely. It’s Mendes’ “Perfect”. The steady building drums and guitars carry Mendes’ emotional vocals in another solid entry for this incredible album. It’s another lovely vignette.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

7. Particular Taste

We finally get a faster, more upbeat tune from a normally very peppy Shawn Mendes. His lyricism is again great. The production incorporates whistles and slide guitars in unique ways to give this a really funky edge. It’s a great addition.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

8. Why

Over the halfway hump of the album, you begin listening for signs of fatigue or burnout, but nothing like that is exhibited. Mendes delivers another emotional ballad with a wonderful falsetto and trance-like production. His songwriting is sincere and well-crafted. He doesn’t waste his words and delivers another hit for the album. The only reason I scored it lower is because I probably won’t revisit this specific track often personally.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

9. Because I Had You

I can think of only one other artist working today who can write and sing and produce songs of superior quality consistently on a record like this. The guitars and production are so smooth and sweet. His songwriting is just outstanding as he crafts an emotional farewell to someone special. This is a masterfully crafted song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

10. Queen

The song has a real California vibe to it. The guitars and production is angrier and has a kinda summer sensibility to it. The angrier, scornful song is very different in a story sense from the rest of the record and it’s absolutely genius. Mendes delivers yet another excellent song for the record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

11. Youth (ft. Khalid)

The third single is just outstanding. The smooth guitars and hopefully production is wonderful. The collaboration between Mendes and Khalid is a match made in the musical heavens. Singing about ambitions, the pair deliver great performances and a great song. It’s yet another perfect addition.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

12. Mutual

The acoustic ballad is lovely. The peppier song is no doubt a guaranteed hit. Mendes presents his signature vocals and couples it with catchy melodies and masterfully produced lines. It’s another perfect addition to the record.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

13. Perfectly Wrong

The slower piano ballad is a perfect showcase of Mendes’ falsetto and melancholy songwriting. The emotionally charged performance is electrifying, underscored by equally exhilarating production. It’s a perfect penultimate song that is truly special.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

14. When You’re Ready

The final song of the album has a Hawaiian sunset sort of vibe. It’s a sweet farewell that feels like a warm campfire the beach while the sun sets. It’s a genuine treat to the ears and gorgeous final song. It signals that Mendes has done something nye-impossible: he’s delivered a near-perfect album. The songwriting is superb and Mendes proves why he is and should be heralded as one of pop’s shining stars.

Conclusion:

Shawn Mendes is the American version of Ed Sheeran, with just as much talent and charisma. The singer/songwriter deals in very emotional topics and shares a similar style to the British singer. Mendes even delivers an outstanding album, much like Sheeran did a year ago with Divide, that presents 14 vignettes that deal with love, rejection, desire, anxiety, ambition, attraction, and dislike. Mendes’ record is filled with emotion, colorful and distinct lyricism, smooth and indie-like production, and a true passion for the craft. Shawn Mendes is a shining star in pop music and has a very bright future ahead of him.

Album Rating: 9.7/10

Grade: A+

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