Shawn Mendes moves toward maturity in third album


(Photo via Island Records)

When Vine was still popular in 2013, Shawn Mendes only needed six seconds of camera time to become an overnight internet sensation.

Mendes, a 19-year-old singer-songwriter, shared a video of him singing  “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber on the popular video-sharing social media app. The short video quickly went viral.

Mendes — along with other Vine and YouTube personalities — formed into the group known as Magcon. The group consisted of Cameron Dallas, Nash Grier, Taylor Caniff and many others. The group toured around the nation hosting events at convention centers, giving fans the opportunity to buy tickets to meet and take pictures with their favorite internet personalities.

But in 2014, Mendes broke away from the group, got signed to Island Records and released his first single, “Life of the Party.”

He’s come a long way since then with two full-length albums under his belt and a third this year. Mendes released his self-titled third album May 25, featuring 14 tracks of low-tempo, soulful melodies.

The album offers a more mellow selection that distracts from his reputation as a heartthrob earned during his Magcon days, leaving listeners with the opportunity to enjoy a solid yet different take on his music.

The album takes a step away from his previous albums — “Illuminate,” which came out in 2016, and “Handwritten,” which came out in 2015.

Prior to his newest album release, Mendes released two singles — “In My Blood” and “Lost in Japan” — which appear on the album. Mendes’ previous albums left him with a reputation for pop melodies, leaving primarily teenage girls swooning over him and selling out merchandise and concert tours.

“Shawn Mendes” mainly has slow tempos and smooth tones teamed up with romantic themes. The album is more thoughtful when compared to his previous offerings — allowing listeners to get a feel for Mendes’ many dimensions. It features pop serenades about love and betrayal, with a blend of dance and pop, with two ballads that feature American singer-songwriters Khalid and Julia Michaels.

The track “Youth,” featuring Khalid, begins with subtle beats paired with verses between the two artists that create for effortless-sounding harmonies. The two artists mainly complement each other through shared lyrics like, “You can’t take my youth away / This soul of mine will never break.”

“Youth” is a feel-good bop to jam to on your way to class with vulnerable yet inspirational lyrics, like, “Pain, but I won’t let it turn into hate / No, I won’t let it change me.” “Lost in Japan” is another track that follows hopeful rhythms and beat drops as Mendes sings about long-distance heartache.

“Shawn Mendes” is only accompanied by one music video — for the single In My Blood — which has over 75 million views. The video starts off with Mendes lying on a gray floor as the camera slowly pans closer to his face. The floor start to wither away and completely falls apart once the chorus drops. Shying away from heavy special effects, the video’s intimacy partners well with the more mature Mendes album.

Mendes shows fans a new vocal aptitude in this album, one that will fit right into mainstream pop culture — which won’t come as a shock, given the broad range of guest producers and writers. Teddy Geiger, who has writing credits for much of the album, has helped Mendes in the past with production of some of his most famous singles, “Treat You Better” and “Mercy.” John Mayer and Joel Little each helped produce a song, while Ed Sheeran co-wrote another.

Mendes will perform at The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City this Friday, June 1.

Mendes then sets out on his world tour, hitting stops in  Brazil, Denmark and Japan. The wait for a Pittsburgh concert is a year away — Mendes is set to perform at PPG Paints Arena Aug. 6, 2019.