Shygirl: Nymph album review
Midway through “Shlut,” a sultry entry to Shygirl’s feature debut, the singer asks a simple question over choppy trap beats: “Is it so bad to just like being touched?” Sexuality, especially female sexuality, is often seen as frivolous, fleeting and tumultuous, something that by its nature cannot be defined or qualified. On the other side Nymph, as much by the content of the songs as by the eclectic nature of their instrumentation, the artist born Blane Muise shakes up this notion by giving full scope to her fantasies and desires. What does it mean to be “bad”? What does it mean to want to? With futuristic neo-club anthems like “Freak,” “Nasty” and “Gush,” Shygirl has long worn her sexuality on her sleeve. On Nymphher siren song takes us deeper into the forest, beyond the wet dance floors of her early discography and to a brighter, more introspective place.
To achieve this feat, she assembled a coterie of co-writers and co-producers, including longtime collaborator Sega Bodega, Mura Masa, Arca and underground pop denizens Danny L Harle, BloodPop and Vegyn. Each is known for a unique sound, but from track to track they never collide. To her immense credit, Shygirl maintains the thread throughout, her falsetto barely there and her unerring bravado keeping everything laser focused. On “Shlut,” she, BloodPop, and Bodega distill aspects of classic 2000 pop, like Darkchild-style plucked acoustic guitars and static looping sample, and blend them seamlessly with hip-hop influences. and electronics you’d expect from a Shygirl. Track. The sound transcends nostaglia, evoking low-rise jeans, belly tees and the cheeky sex appeal of the early 2000s without resorting to mimicry.
Elsewhere on Nymph, Shygirl and her bandmates achieve the opposite effect: take a very contemporary sound and reverse-engineer it to sound like the genre it evolved from. Although Shygirl was never a hyperpop artist, her creative development coincided with the rise of the genre. It’s an easy first reference for “Firefly,” where she, Fade to Mind Kingdom producer, and Bodega marry a bouncy, glitchy synth melody with a wispy electro beat and deep vocals. But instead of invoking an (increasingly outdated, if we’re being honest) hyperpop sound, a satisfying British garage track springs forth. Shygirl’s understanding of how these musical elements interact and inform each other seems alchemical.
This does not mean Nymph it’s all the heady production values and technical minutiae; it’s also a showcase for Shygirl’s whimsical, carnal humor. Call me juvenile, but I still haven’t finished the intro to “Coochie (a bedtime story)” without a hearty laugh: “Hello?” Shygirl breathes into the phone, “Is anyone there? It’s the coochie calling. She looks like the grime Betty Boop. Even that image is subverted, however, because as the song rolls on, we realize it’s not Shygirl’s coochie making the call; rather, it is she who receives the request. “Every time that coochie calls / I’ll be on my way,” she sings, once again using her sexuality to emphasize the fact that she has the agency to fuck, or be fucked, by whoever she wants. .