Although Shygirl’s career is relatively new, her music has always remained at the forefront of what pop music can be. “Nymph”, her first feature film, is no exception as she alternates between rapping and singing on tracks that display her now typical electronic style.
Shygirl showed us through her second EP “ALIAS” that she is capable of commanding the club. “Nymph”, however, shows an artist more in touch with her emotions. Shygirl seems to have gone from party girl to someone much more introspective. In an interview with rolling stoneShygirl explains that the music has a presence while not being as upfront as her previous work.
The album begins with “Woe”, which begins with a more vulnerable tone before transitioning into something far more cheeky and sexually charged. “Woe” serves as the perfect tone for the rest of the album by encapsulating the two attitudes Shygirl adopts throughout.
Lyrics like “you love to hate, yeah, you do it so well / smiley faces just fade to leave a shell” show that Shygirl is ready to open up about her feelings. On the other hand, Shygirl also displays a wry sexual side – “the booty so delicious, I just wanna take a bite, though.”
Shygirl follows “Woe” as she dwells on her emotions on “Come For Me,” in which Shygirl sings about finding love even in hardship. At times, Shygirl’s lyrics seem at odds with the experimental production provided by Arca, a well-known experimental producer and artist. The electronic distortions add a haunting effect to the track which contrasts directly with the heartfelt theme of the search for love, making the track feel disjointed.
“Heaven” is a much more successful love song. Poignant lines such as “please ignore all the things I’ve done / if loving you is a sin” shine against more toned down production. The crashing waves at the intro and end of the song add to Shygirl’s “Heaven” image and demonstrate not only Mura Masa’s skills, but also Shygirl’s skills as a producer as they contribute to the heavenly atmosphere of the song.
Unlike the lack of sonic harmony on “Come For Me”, “Nike” is the most lyrically unbalanced song compared to the rest of the album. “Nike” features Shygirl rapping about how much her partner loves her body. This song, although not objectively bad, seems to belong to another album.
Other songs on the album that contain sexual themes associate these themes with vulnerable commentary or criticism of sexuality. “Nike” sounds like Shygirl bragging about how sexual she can be without further analysis. Here, Shygirl gives in to her bravado too much and produces a song that doesn’t fit thematically with the rest of the album.
Despite a few missteps, the album holds attention throughout thanks to its creative and experimental production choices. “Poison” displays a Eurodance flair through the accordion strewn throughout, while “Missin U” embodies unsettling rage with its rickety beat co-produced by Sega Bodega.
Even lead single “Firefly” experiments with 90s and early 2000s R&B influences through creatively intertwined acoustic guitar chords to create a song in which Shygirl realizes that the person she loves is not her. love back – “It was so nice not to pretend we’d be together again / I’m a fool when I know the truth. Shygirl herself even said in the same Rolling Stone interview that the song had been heavily influenced by the work of Janet Jackson in the late 90s and early 2000s.
“Nymph” is an album that showcases Shygirl’s abilities as one of the next great experimental pop artists. Here, Shygirl uses club music as a way to not only party, but experience all the emotions that love has to offer. Look past some of its rougher edges, and ‘Nymph’ is a good introduction to one of Britain’s greatest new artists.