When Shamir released his debut album in 2015, he was 19 years old and feeling inspired by the early, euphoric roots of Chicago house and nu-disco. Ratchet, rightfully, dropped to a fervidly positive reception. Perhaps a little too positive for Shamir, who apparently spent the following two years grappling with his newfound pop star status. Over the weekend Shamir revealed that he was actually planning to announce his retirement — though instead he decided to record and self-release a surprise new album.
"I was gonna quit music this weekend. From day 1 it was clear i was an accidental pop star," he wrote on SoundCloud this morning. "I loved the idea of it, i mean who doesn't? Still the wear of staying polished with how I'm presented and how my music was presented took a huge toll on me mentally. I started to hate music, the thing i loved the most! When i would listen to immaculate recordings with my friends their praise over the quality of the art as opposed to the art itself made me feel really sad for music as a medium in general. My music only feels exciting for me if it's in the moment, and that's what this album is."
Hope couldn't be a more authentic embodiment of a bedroom recording. Full of spontaneous, scratchy indie-pop-rock jams with titles including Ignore Everything and I Fucking Hate You, it's neither danceable nor overly delicate. It even includes a cover of Rain by Juliana Hatfield's old alt-rock college band Blake Babies — a fun surprise even coming from an artist equally inspired by The Slits and Larry Levan. And there's even more where that came from. "Enjoy! Love Yall! Still more 2 come!!!!!!!" Shamir wrote after shouting out his friend Kieran Ferris for mastering the album with an hour's notice. Stream the whole thing below and download it for free here.
Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Alasdair McLellan