shygirl-nymph-album-review

Shygirl - “Nymph” Album Review

Story posted October 4, 2022 in

Vulgar, experimental and far from milquetoast, London-based rapper Shygirl’s trademark club-rat sound is softened by an inclusion of complex harmonies and non-electronic instruments on her debut album “Nymph.”

The album's name wonderfully represents this album's lyrical and musical themes. Whimsical with constantly shapeshifting genre influence, the album provides a multifaceted perspective of Shygirl’s personal connection with her sexuality and vulnerability.

Simply put, this album allows the audience to see past Shygirl’s armor of overtly explicit lyrics to the experimental, hyperpop beats of producer Sega Bodega to see she -like most women- holds a conflicting opinion of the way she presents her body to the world. Well-rounded perspectives on the female existence and exploration into new themes without losing her signature vocal and backing preferences made this album an absolute delight to listen to.

This is an exemplary debut album by the standards of any genre with very few problem tracks.

Typically, an issue that arises when critiquing most club, electronic and hyperpop albums is a misconception that artists choose style over substance when using traditionally discouraged/disjointed production elements.This misunderstanding can immediately encourage critics to not think as highly of an album in these genres.

However, understanding that style is mostly synonymous with substance in these genres (originality and danceability forming the genres’ core tenets), allows for the critic to rate hyperpop/club music more appropriately.

Diving into this album, many anticipated a need to rank it with this bias in mind. However, Shygirl far exceeded expectations by finding a middle ground between electronic elements and an emerging pop sound.

Transcending genres, “Nymph” excels at blending natural elements, such as the acoustic guitar and flute, into her overproduced, energized electronic elements. A prime example of this blend can be found in “Shlut.”

“Shlut” uses the guitar as a melodic complement to the back beat, which is typical of a folkier, rock song. However, the hyperpop inspired back beat is a distorted audio of galloping horses, acting as the percussive element in the track. This composition may sound disjointed, yet, a breakdown/rap portion with light, exasperated harmonies and a precise flute performance makes for a haunting mix that sticks with the listener.

The experience is only heightened when Shygirl’s clever lyrics tie the horse gallops to the concept of domestication, power and choice with her role in past romantic relationships.

Overall, the instrumental composition of the album was consistent across all songs, however, her biggest misstep was her vocals. Many of the songs were too similar in the treatment of her vocals.

She often sings in a teasing, sensual manner, which causes her voice to have a slight whispery, textured quality to it. This quality, however, can cause the lyrical delivery to fall flat since there is no robust or deep tonal work being done.

“Little Bit” adequately represents this misstep because a listener can hear her disinterest; she is not doing well selling the idea she really wants the listener to “stay just a little bit.”

Funnily enough, the silliest song on the album “C**chie (a bedtime story)” - a song which sprung out of Shygirl’s wish for a nonsexual song about female anatomy - includes some of her better vocals on the album. The listener can feel her enjoyment in the recording; her voice is eager and tonally varied, better selling the track’s cute and “wholesome” nature.

Ultimately, this is an album that I will choose to revisit in the future as electronica and hyperpop continue to create a distinct sound. Shygirl will remain a leader in the club scene, no doubt about it, and this album will age well for its innovative genre-defying instrumentals, overall consistency and intelligent, personal lyrics.

This is an album that can be enjoyed in any order and provides the listener more to uncover with each listen. This will probably rank in my top-five favorite albums released this year.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Poison,” “Nike”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Songs: “Come for Me”

 

Eliza Casey is a second-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact her, email egc5236@psu.edu.