New | November 6, 2017
Shamir comes back “Cloudy” and with a Neil Young fever dream


There’s a lot of bad music out there. It floats in space, trying to catch you, blasting and advertising itself off the back of UPS trucks. Fortunately, the latest from Shamir is not bad, in fact, it’s resolutely good. His second album of 2017, Revelations, is a pretty much perfect affair, an intermediate proof-of-concept that British banjo players haven’t landed acoustic rock it’s death knell just yet. The rustling acoustic riff of “Cloudy” is a perfect entry point: it rolls like crisp yellowing leaves falling and sounds like it was lifted up from side B of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

That is comes from Shamir Bailey, a black, queer and until this year, a post-Yeezus electronic impresario whose music was hip enough for Apple to steal for an iOS 10 ad, will come as a surprise to anyone who didn’t catch Hope, an 4-track bedroom acoustic set Shamir recorded over a weekend this April and dumped on Soundcloud shortly after. That a label as self-consciously hip as XL would dump him instead of giving him a few days in Abbey Road to really bang it out is unfortunate but a niche business is a business nonetheless. Their loss. Shamir is an equally perfect lyricist, hitting lines like Can someone tell me why/I always seem to let these/straight boys ruin my life? (off closer “Straight Boy”) that actually sound like something somebody would say while strumming a guitar by a fireplace. He’s Frank Ocean without the support network, or Bob Dylan reinvented for our own turbulence. He deserves our rapt attention.