Embark on Shawn Mendes’ whimsical world of Wonder

After a career-high of a 2019 with a sold out world tour, first stadium concert and first number one single sitting pretty immediately following his first Grammy nominations, it’s clear there’s nothing holding Shawn Mendes back. While the year 2020 has exposed a lot about the world, Mendes is opening up about his like never before. With his fourth studio album, he’s sonically exploring, becoming a more vulnerable lyricist, and showcasing how far he’s come as an artist and a man with sweet-as-sugar vocals that sound better every time he sings. Though ultimately, Wonder begs the universal question and answers it in one fell swoop: how do you feel when you’ve finally found “the one”?

For Mendes, the answer is exhilarating, all-consuming, relieving and completely natural all enveloped in the four letter word called love. Still at the ripe age of 22, Wonder gives a glimpse into young adult life, aka having a lot of intense feelings that are constantly on a roller coaster ride. With the booming and exciting lead single, ‘Wonder’ one may think they’re about to listen to an uber-uplifting album about love and hope. While it certainly does have those elements, with romantic ballads such as ‘24 Hours’ and ‘Can’t Imagine’, or the fun and bouncy ‘305’. However, tracks ‘Call My Friends’, ‘Monster’ and ‘Song For No One’ offer the sadder growing pains that seem more realistic, and the duality of giving yourself over to other person in love, whilst trying to figure out who you even are as a person. The perfect pairing duet of ‘Monster’ with Justin Bieber is especially telling of the narrative of pop music’s current and past favorite males, and how the praise and punish cycle from the public eye so often does repeat itself.

It’s interesting to see how the bigger-picture story pieces together, from his last self-titled third album, to this new one. We get to see the transition of when Mendes finally gets the opportunity to stop pining, and does indeed get the girl, then falls deeper into love instead of just infatuation. ‘Piece of You’ and ‘Teach Me How To Love’ charter unexplored, mature, even sexual terrain, that he’s previously only cautiously alluded to.

Mendes is moving in a positive direction as each album gets a little bit better in different ways. It’s not unfamiliar, but not entirely new, instead coming at a happy medium showing growth and not wanting to completely abandon the roots that have worked so well for him. He might not have a definitive sound quite yet, but his willingness to risk making an album not entirely cohesive is hopeful, as his talent continues to lead him to that big debut that really does define his career. This album gives the biggest glimpse yet of the artistry potential Mendes possesses and gives wonder to when he’ll finally unleash it all.

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