- Ryan Arnold
Album Review: Shawn Mendes - 'Wonder'
At 22-years-old, Shawn Mendes has done a lot in his short time in the music industry. The Canadian singer/songwriter has seen 10 of his singles reach the top 20 of the Billobard Hot 100, and his first three albums, “Handwritten” (2015), “Illuminate” (2016) and his self-titled release (2018), each went to number one.
His fourth, “Wonder,” is 40 minutes of rhythm and lyrics blasting away from an artist still discovering himself. The album is a mixer of youthful passions chock-full of pomp and style. Fans of Mendes will be blown away –however, I am not convinced that his latest offering will win over any newcomers. Nevertheless, this coming-of-age album is one that Mendes can be proud of, and throughout his lyrics, it shows.
Following an intro, Mendes starts off his album with his most recognized song this year, the title track. The lead single, which is probably the strongest song on the album, has been buzzing on our radios since the beginning of Oct. Mendes passionately belts out his lyrics throughout: "I wonder if I'm being real/Do I speak my truth or do I filter how I feel?” The song also deals with anxiety and toxic masculinity: "I wonder/when I cry into my hands/I'm conditioned to feel like it makes me less of a man."
In “24 Hours,” a love letter of sorts, Mendes slows things down and strictly focuses on the piano playing in the foreground. By contrast, “Teach Me How to Love” gives us disco-esque vibes where we want to get up and dance. This groovy song will be stuck in your head all day long. While “Piece of You” features a slick R&B melody.
Adding to the album’s variety is “Higher,” which is a similar song to something Ed Sheeran would sing, and is chock-full of fast lyrics and heart.
In the second single, “Monster,” Mendes and featured artist Justin Bieber unveil the vulnerabilities and pitfalls of stardom. Mendes says, "Fill me up with confidence, I say what's in my chest/Spill my words and tear me down until there's nothin' left." While Bieber responds, "I was fifteen when the world put me on a pedestal/I had big dreams of doin' shows and making memories/Made some bad moves tryin' to act cool, upset by their jealousy."
“Monster” is Mendes' most vulnerable song to-date, as both he and Bieber open up their wounds and pour them out through lyrics and style. It’s a powerful and quiet little song that will stick with you long after the beats end.
For the penultimate track on “Wonder,” Mendes brings us back to what made him who he is, with “Look Up at the Stars,” a pop-rock song that soars for the sky, belted out by an artist who cares.
Mendes ends his newest album with a relaxing song, “Can't Imagine,” which features nothing more than his guitar and his voice. We listen to sweet melodies as Mendes sings, "I can't imagine what a world would be."
“Wonder” is nothing groundbreaking, but it is a delight to listen to, as we see an artist find his footing and his voice.