ALIAS: ALBUM REVIEW
You have to sit and analyze Shygirl’s newest project ALIAS. The South London rapper, singer, and producer has been around for a while but her newest project is her most fully-formed artistic statement to date. At surface level, ALIAS sounds quite similar to other clubby rap, mixing in clear grime and house influences, but there are so many instrumental oddities that push the project over the deep-end into something weirder. It’s a skittering and morphing project, with Shygirl showing off such a wide range of flows that you have to constantly check to see who is rapping. ALIAS takes what normally makes you feel uncomfortable and makes it comforting.
Most songs start out glitchy and fried. The song “SLIME” is built around minor chord bleeps and bloops Shygirl’s pitched-down vocals and a deep 808 bassline. Lyrically, Shygirl proclaims she’s a Rottweiler and even spends a few bars literally growling. However, Shygirl has a command over the track that keeps it from ever moving too far left of center. At its core, every track on this album is built to make you move. Behind all of the off-kilter melodies, Shygirl is here to make bangers.
The standout song “FREAK” follows a similar structure, building to a point of tension before breaking out into a rave. Nothing at the beginning of the track is synchronized at all, it almost sounds like Shygirl is off-beat. The vocals are layered and pitched in different ways which seem built to disorient you. When the beat does come in, it pulsates, providing a heartbeat for the track and giving “FREAK” a direction. This heartbeat-like, propulsive drum pattern carries many songs on the album, making the project feel alive and active.
Shygirl’s lyrics blend effortless bragging with a powerful wit and insight. Shygirl talks a lot about sex and everything that comes before and after. But, it’s not the bars that carry ALIAS, it’s her ability to use these lyrics and unique flows to find the perfect pocket in the beat. On the song “BAWDY,” she navigates through multiple beat switches while easily slipping in and out of flows and voices. “BAWDY” also introduces the vocal manipulation that Shygirl uses to layer vocals and create different moods. Her use of pitch allows her to blow open any track and reveal all of the intricacies and hidden melodies in a beat.
ALIAS also showcases Shygirl’s ability to make pop tunes. “TASTY” takes a typically housey rhythm with some drum and bass elements and transforms this mix into a proper pop song. Shygirl’s vocals aren’t precise, but they add to the urgency of the track. At one point toward the end of the song, right before a wild ending breakdown, there are at least seven different instruments driving the track forward. Shygirl’s vocals take a back seat as they slide behind the drums and house chords like butter.
The album feels inspired by so many sources, it’s like earcandy trying to pick out inspirations. Shygirl continues to push her sound in fascinating ways and hopefully, we get to see her sound take even fuller form in the future.