Shawn Mendes’s “Illuminate” will brighten your day
December 16, 2016
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By Vivian Hoang | Staff Writer
Canadian singer, song-writer, and former Vine star Shawn Mendes released his sophomore album “Illuminate” on Sept. 23. The album contains twelve tracks, the deluxe version containing three additional tracks. The influence of acoustic rock artists John Mayer and Jason Mraz, resonates throughout this album’s guitar heavy melodies and clear vocals. “Illuminate” serves as an outlet for Mendes’s past experiences and romantic thoughts. His intimate and relatable lyrics strike his audience and make this album heartwarming.
The opening track “Ruin” describes Mendes’s experience pining after a girl who did not reciprocate his feelings. A poignant line from the chorus, “And I’m not tryna to ruin your happiness, but darling don’t you know that I’m the one for you,” captures the essence of unrequited love. The combination of Mendes’s sweet crooning over a guitar accompanied by a thumping drum, both of which are very John Mayer-esque, sets a high standard for the rest of the album.
Mendes opens the second song “Mercy” by humming and nostalgically recalls a girl who had complete control over him and his heart. He laments in the chorus, “Show me an open door, then you go and slam it on me. I can’t take it anymore.” Mendes begs for mercy, while an echoing choir backs his pleas, and concludes the song by reverting back to his humming. The song is catchy and captures the raw emotion of a passionate, but unhealthy relationship.
“Three Empty Words” is the fourth song on the album, and outlines the process of breaking up and the emotions involved. The song is reminiscent of works by Jason Mraz, but Mendes personalizes it with his own vocals and unique viewpoint on love. The opening guitar riffs sounds like a love song, but close attention to the lyrics, reveals that it is a song about falling out of love. He sings about the feelings one has at the end of a relationship when the partnership seems reliant more on habit than on chemistry. Mendes refuses to waste time pretending to be happy, “We’re going through the motions, cause we can’t fix what’s broken. Those three empty words will only make it worse. I’m tired. I can’t take it anymore.”
I enjoyed listening to this album in my down time. “Illuminate” slowed down my fast-paced life and created a perfect atmosphere for reflection. Overall, I liked the music, but I still think there is room for growth. Instead of imitating songs of the early 2000s, Shawn Mendes needs to develop his own individual style. The similar sounding ambiance and composition of the tracks makes the overall album repetitive and songs forgettable.
The “Illuminate” album is perfect for the fall season. Hopeless romantics and fans of John Mayer and Jason Mraz will enjoy Mendes’s style and lyrics. “Illuminate” is a testament of Mendes’s continued growth as an artist who is quickly making his way to the center stage. I would give the album a 8/10 rating.