Shamir — Heterosexuality — Album Review

Alternative | Indie | Pop

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

It was back in late 2020 that I discovered Las Vegas singer-songwriter Shamir Bailey (known professionally as Shamir) with his self-titled album. And I feel that through this record, many new fans had discovered the artist as well.

I had definitely picked up on the unique musical style and aesthetic that Shamir was working towards and chiselling out, and it certainly made a fan out of me. I had kept my eyes and ears out for any new material that may have arrived in 2021, but only managed to uncover the cover of the Billie Eilish song “Ocean Eyes” (a stunning cover, nonetheless).

But as I would later discover in the lead-up to his brand new 2022 album Heterosexuality, I found that there were four teaser tracks already released. I gave the most recent two a quick listen beforehand, and could already see an insane stylistic evolution. That being said, it didn’t take me long to get pumped for the full release of the album.

However, Heterosexuality serves as so much more than just a stylistic evolution from Shamir; where this album really shines, is through its message.

At first glance, one might think that the album’s title suggests some kind of social commentary against heterosexuality. But instead, Shamir works towards busting many of the myths and misinterpretations surrounding gender identity; particularly Shamir’s own.

Shamir identifies as non-binary, but is still comfortable with he-him pronouns. On top of this, he doesn’t identify as gay, as a result of not identifying as male or female.

In a nutshell, Shamir’s gender identity, and willingness to make it loud and clear for those that aren’t listening, serve as the power source behind the album, and many of its tracks. When listening to tracks like “Gay Agenda” and “Cisgender”, this makes perfect sense.

Through its musical merits, Heterosexuality really brings this narrative focus to life, with a wide range of different moods that make the album both empowering and melancholy in different parts. It allows listeners to really feel what the artist is feeling, and allows us to insightfully slip into the shoes of Shamir, so to speak.

And while we’re on the topic of the tracks, each of them are incredibly well-made. And this isn’t to say that Shamir’s self-titled 2020 effort was underwhelming, but Heterosexuality shows a remarkable improvement and focus on Shamir’s unique aesthetic, while also presenting a great deal of musical diversity. In fact, that musical diversity is almost on par with the likes of Genesis Owusu’s Smiling with No Teeth; my favourite album of 2021.

With all of these great tracks coming under one album, binded by the personal narrative that Shamir focuses on, Heterosexuality makes for one of the most memorable and impactful musical experiences of the year thus far.

I would absolutely recommend adding this album to your catalogue of 2022 listens. Not only is Heterosexuality an incredibly powerful statement on gender identity; it is also one of Shamir’s most polished and memorable albums to date.

Favourite Tracks: Abomination | Stability | Caught Up | Marriage | Reproductive

Least Favourite Track: n/a

AntiFragile Music

Final Score: 90%

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Joe Boothby

Joe Boothby

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.