Fans never know what type of music Shamir is going to release. His first album, "Ratchet," was a dance-pop album. If he had continued with the genre, he would have become a household name. Shamir instead rejected the highly produced sound of "Ratchet" for the grime low-fi sound of his later albums.
Low-fi is a music genre that is okay with its imperfections; in fact, it celebrates them. Over his last five albums, Shamir has honed his low-fi sound while also blending in other genres, such as country or rock.
His newest self-titled album, "Shamir," shows how much he has grown and how willing he is to be vulnerable with those who listen.
Shamir initially wrote the first track, "On My Own," as a breakup song. But with the pandemic, it has become a track that celebrates being alone in general. The heavy snare introduction followed by a typical rock riff sounds like a mixture of Blink-182 and Imagine Dragons. Shamir’s falsetto helps the song stand out, but it can be challenging to understand what he says. The breathiness of his voice can come off as sounds instead of actual words. With more listens, the track is quite upbeat and reminds people that being alone is okay. "And I feel it in my bones / Inside myself is where I belong," he sings.
Shamir seems to want people to get inside his mind on this album. The track "Paranoid" describes how heavily anxiety affects his life. The distorted guitar feels like the fuzz in his mind when he experiences paranoia. His voice adds some distortion, which once again reflects his anxiety. While he wants to reject his paranoia, his anxiety keeps its grasp on him; it’s his comfort zone. "Paranoia seems to be my very best friend / I wish he'd go away, I never want to see him again / I'm tired of this confusion and illusion built within my brain."
"Running" is the first time we hear Shamir being positive. While in previous tracks he dealt with being alone, now he deals with letting someone into his life. The song's positivity can be heard within the instruments, with no distortion, claps for encouragement and a baseline in a major key. He sings of opening up to someone new, but there is also a lot of doubt in his mind, because he believes he is only going to hurt this other person: "We'll be free as birds never doing a thing we're told / But the pull of my conscience keeps calling for me to come home."
Shamir also has a country moment on his track "Other Side." There is a distinct twang in his voice, and the instrumentation includes a banjo. As he howls into the microphone, the crackle in his falsetto gives off a sadness. The instruments do an excellent job of balancing the heavy emotions with a positive sound. Hearing a country song with this low-fi sound harks back to the days of Johnny Cash, although Shamir doesn’t hit the low notes. This song also exudes the country sound because, while upbeat, Sahmir’s forlorn voice adds another layer of vulnerability as he sings about someone he lost. "I thought I would see you, much sooner than later / But when later came around and they couldn't find you anywhere.”
This album accomplishes a lot in less than half an hour. Shamir adds an entirely new flare to the rock genre, a style of music that could use some refreshing. Shamir isn't afraid to make what he enjoys. While it can be incomprehensible sometimes, it’s still inviting to the listener's ear.