Shamir: “Ratchet” Album Review

Written By: Fletcher Bonin 

In his debut LP Ratchet, Shamir recaptures the ephemeral vibe of the disco age while simultaneously defying categorization altogether. His eerie, countertenor voice slithers through your headphones like some kind of enchanted silver serpent, accompanied by harmonious synths and tripping, glittering 80’s keyboard melodies. His androgynous falsetto lingers on each chord strike on this, his latest eleven song album. Oh, and I should mention that he is only twenty-two years old.

Shamir’s sets the tone with the first track “Vegas,” undoubtedly paying homage to his hometown in this epic and personal ballad. What with the dance pop sound of his songs, it really does seem as though we can hear his enjoyment through the lyrics. Indeed, he sings “why not go out and make a scene, live it up its Saturday night!” on the track ‘Make a Scene’. As if we needed more of a reason to let loose on the weekend. Lucid cowbell tones and staccato drum hits characterize his unique sound and pair perfectly with his shimmering, jumpy, vibrant vocals. On songs such as “Hot Mess” and others Shamir showcases his characteristic attitude through his heartfelt lyrics, singing “Don’t try me I’m not a free sample” on the track ‘On the Regular’. His music is fun and will make you want to dance, flat out. A CMJ records producer describes his sound as “amazingly unclassifiable – souped-up Vegas strip disco with a self-conscious pop beat.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

My personal favorite track is “Demon” in which Shamir seems to turn more introspective, crooning about a past relationship on this virtually acapella track. He sings “No turning back you have me completely, If I’m a demon baby you’re the beast that made me.” On many tracks, including and especially “In For the Kill” dulcet horns descend into a madness remedied only by Shamir’s enchanting vocals. In fact, to my ear the whole album had a kind of Gatsby-party soundtrack vibe. Highly recommend for anyone that wants to feel good today.