Ratchet Album Review
Released May 19, 2015
Genre: Electronic, Indie Pop, Nu-Disco, R&B, Dance Pop, Synthpop
Las Vegas based singer-songwriter Shamir released his debut album on May 19, and it’s safe to say that it is one of the more refreshing releases to come out this year. Known for his unique voice, eclectic production, and disco/house/R&B influences Shamir has slowly been building up to Ratchet with singles such as “On The Regular” and ‘Call It Off”. On Ratchet, Shamir brings his vibrant energy and eclectic personality into the fold with some danceable beats and emotive ballads scattered all over.
The opener “Vegas” is an emphatic ode to Shamir’s hometown, yet the fantastic energy truly begins on the following track “Make A Scene”. The dance pop instrumentation is sure to welcome anybody, yet Shamir’s vocals do take some getting used to for unseasoned listeners. At times Shamir alternates between an impressive falsetto and something along the lines of Rent. Similarly the following track “On The Regular” is a bouncy and more glam pop influenced track that which finds Shamir’s vocals laced with a groovy bass line. Get past the vocals, and you’ll be dancing in seconds.
Eclectic can sometimes be an understatement for some of these songs as Shamir goes all over the place. In “In For The Kill” a stuttering sax intro leads into a steady neo-soul/R&B track while “Head In The Clouds” Shamir’s vocals trickle out with passion and authenticity. As the album progresses, Shamir’s vocals begin to sound more liberating and free as opposed to the subdued intro “Vegas”. Most of the vocals here sound a lot like Prince and B2K, minus the hyper-masculinity. It’s here that we begin to see the personality that is Shamir, who then closes off the album quite unexpectedly with ‘KC”, an acoustic ballad that -despite the hit or miss attempts at soulful balladry (“Darker”)- feels right, honest, and apt.
Ratchet is an undeniably fun, danceable, and flamboyant record which shows Shamir’s personality and taste in full. And while most of these tracks are wild, dance poppy, and carry a disco vibe they are nonetheless hindered by the off-the-mark ballads that, despite their passionate vocals, feel superficial and upset the pacing of the album. This record leaves a lot to be desired, and that can be both a good and bad thing. So listen to Shamir if you’re up for some dancing, just in time for those summer nights to come rolling on by.
FAV TRACKS: Make A Scene, On The Regular, Call It Off, In For The Kill, Head In The Clouds, KC
LEAST FAV TRACK: Darker