At 27, Shamir is releasing his eighth studio album in six years, this time on AntiFragile, after short spans signed initially to XL and later to Father/Daughter Records. Always keen to put his own life into his music, the Las Vegas singer/songwriter and producer this time took a decisive step forward, stating: “I think this album is me finally acknowledging my trauma. Everyone knows I’ve been through so much shit and I kind of just rammed through, without really acknowledging the actual trauma that I do feel on almost a daily basis.” (For those who don’t know, Shamir, a non-binary person of colour, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a psychotic episode right after the self-release of his second album Hope).
Titled Heterosexuality, and with tracks bearing names like ‘Gay Agenda’ and ‘Cisgender’, it might be easy to guess the kind of trauma the musician is referring to – but, as is always the case with Shamir, the nuances are multiple and surprising. The usual kaleidoscope of influences and sounds distinguishing the artist’s sonic palette is present in the album, and his countertenor voice runs magnificently through the octaves to tell stories of addiction (“Broke up with the Dragon, but he’s chasing me” on ‘Gay Agenda’) and identity (“I’m not cisgender I’m not binary trans / I don’t wanna be a girl, I don’t wanna be a man” on ‘Cisgender’) even when the melodies fail to keep up with the high level of Bailey’s songwriting, as in ‘Marriage’. But even then, there’s more than enough to be mesmerised by in the multifaceted talent of this chameleonic artist.