“Genre is a tool/ not a boundary. / It doesn’t matter what you sound like/ you just have to be you”. You’ll find these poignant words unfurled in cartoonish fluorescent writing across the cover of the album’s black liner notes (up physical music!) Indeed, ‘Ratchet’ finds Shamir Bailey, attempting to corrode the parameters of pan-sexuality, combining his androgynous voice and all the key elements of RnB, House and Indie to produce a fun, metronomic masterpiece.
The 20 year old’s first release since joining XL in the Big Apple sees him channel the abstract tribulations of adolescent ennui into an exquisuite 40 minutes or so sure to soundtrack anyone’s summer. From his departure from the debauchery-filled “city of sin” on the charging, bouncy Vegas to the beautiful closing chords of country ditty, KC, ‘Ratchet’, much like its artwork succeeds in shining a light on the dark, seedy undercurrents of youth as well as the mindless drawl so prevalently passing itself off as pop.
See, what ‘Ratchet’ has in abundance is personality. With lines such as “thinking about every bad decision/ feel so alone/ don’t have a home/ but I’m part of a bigger mission” (Hot Mess) and “if I’m a demon, baby then you’re the beast that made me” (Demon) and delivery as good as it is, you can’t help but want Shamir to go on and achieve pop stardom.
Ironically, however it is on the sassy, self-proclaiming, middle finger-waving call-to-arms, On the Regular which perhaps most grabs our attention.
Saturday night anthem of the year, though? Look no further than Make a Scene. Shamir urges us to ditch the mess of adulthood and seek solace in the “crazy nights that’s filled with lust” to infectious whirling synths hinted at on ‘Northtown’ favourite, If it Wasn’t True and sparky cowbells that recall LCD Soundystem at their coolest.
Although there’s no place for the sublime grimey atmospheric vibes of ballad, I Know It’s a Good Thing.
Nevertheless, ‘Ratchet’ is an enthralling listen packed with enough tunes to last others twice Shamir’s age a lifetime. “Stay tuned for the sequel?” You better bet!