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Shamir: Ratchet

From FasterLouder:
“Las Vegas youngster Shamir follows up last year’s solid Northtown EP with his debut full length Ratchet, a veritable pop kaleidoscope that certainly doesn’t run short on hooks or personality. Tipped for a breakout year when named on BBC’s Sound of 2015 shortlist, Shamir Bailey confidently strides down a path opened up by artists like Le1f and Mykki Blanco of out-and-proud guys seeking to dismantle the traditionally macho and hyper-masculine stereotypes of the American hip-hop scene. Although the direct musical links are only tenuous, it is important to recognise their contribution in terms of ethos and ideology. While Shamir does rap (infectious lead single ‘On The Regular’ might be one of the catchiest examples you’ll hear in 2015), it would be a mistake to categorise Ratchet on the whole as a hip-hop record. In reality, hip-hop only plays a minor role, as Shamir’s music sits somewhere closer to the Hercules and Love Affair sphere of disco/house hybridisation, engineered more towards a 3am set at the Paradise Garage than a trap in Atlanta. That’s not to say Ratchet is not utterly contemporary, though – one listen through the record is enough to tell any listener this music could only have been made in today’s climate. At various points, funk sits alongside deep house while minimal techno interweaves with R&B and soul – most importantly, these syntheses never feel the slightest bit forced. Throughout Ratchet, Shamir proves himself adept in both stripped back, minimal mode (‘Vegas’, ‘Demon’, ‘Darker’) and up-tempo headspaces (‘On The Regular’, ‘In For The Kill’), with his high-pitched androgynous vocal style allowing him to adopt multiple characters and moods. He flits nimbly between college cheerleader vocals in LGBT street parlance and restrained crooning about love and loss – and interestingly the record’s best moments are those closest to each end of the spectrum. ‘On The Regular’ is stylistically reminiscent of Azealia Banks, with a hypercolour cosmopolitan tapestry of influences from ballroom to rave all seamlessly integrated to form a fresh slice of pop; an oasis in the desert of homogenised, hyper-compressed modern chart house. ‘Darker’ is something closer to Sadé – adult contemporary without the blandness that terminology may imply, a captivating tale with a front and centre focus on the vocals. Though these two tracks could hardly be more different, both are executed magnificently, and neither feels out of place on a record that is both incredibly varied and yet undeniably consistent.”
Ratchet is out May 18 on XL Recordings; check out “Call It Off” below.

About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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