Sixteen’s a sweet age to be, especially if you’re Shawn Mendes. The Canadian singer earned a record deal by posting song covers on Vine, and his first studio album, Handwritten, debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200 chart. Just listen to him belt out “Woah-oh/Something big, I feel it happening” with infectious gusto in Something Big, and you know he’s enjoying his time in the spotlight.
Handwritten is best when Shawn isn’t acting like somebody much older. The acoustic Kid in Love is simple and uplifting. Slow jam Life of the Party would do Ed Sheeran proud, with its soulful singing and heartening lyrics (“We don’t have to be ordinary/Make your best mistakes”). The clap-along chorus of Stitches is wonderfully catchy.
But in other songs, he’s just trying too hard. He seems to be more caught up in getting the notes right than in conveying whatever emotional mess he appears to be in. Aftertaste, a breakup song, lacks the vengeful attitude his lyrics suggest.
His writing and performance skills need some serious honing to get to Taylor Swift level (he’s opening for Swift’s tour this summer), but he’s got tonnes of time on his hands. Watch this space.