If Shawn Mendes didn’t make his singer-songwriter aspirations known in his debut, he is now with this sophomore release.
Illuminate is the Canadian’s foray into serious male crooner territory. It’s a mature-sounding record that brings to mind the likes of John Mayer and Ed Sheeran.
That’s good and all, but only if you can ignore the fact that the Toronto-born singer is only 18 years young. But to discount this 15-track offering on the basis of the singer’s age would be a terrible injustice.
However, Mendes sings like he’s trying too hard to be an adult. There’s not much conviction in the songwriting, and at times, the singer comes across like a poor imitation of those adult guitar-wielding crooners he’s trying to emulate.
The fault lies in the generic disposition of the album. The production runs similar for most part of the record: Mid-tempo melodies backed by indistinct drums and soft guitar licks.
Illuminate isn’t the worst thing you’ll hear this year. But it might as well be the dullest.
On some occasions, the throwback slow jam template works. Case in point: The bluesy opener Ruin and rhythmic ballad Don’t Be A Fool. And when Mendes deviates from the sluggish template, he delivers quite a pop frenzy on numbers like the brooding Treat You Better and Mercy.
The teenager’s take on adulthood is commendable. But the boy needs to learn that being mature doesn’t mean that you have to be boring.