The best pop music comes when the artist performing the music isn't afraid to reveal something about themselves. This does not mean an artist has to take away all the grandiose that today's pop music usually has, but they do need to look inside themselves for something that can make a song legitimately good.
A new face on the block, Shy Girls, isn't afraid to strip away some of the flashy elements and prefers to find solitude in his words and minimal instrumentals. His new album Salt is an intimate and revealing debut record that shows a lot of character and a lot of potential for his future.
The stark textures and reverberating atmospheres of Salt play a big part in what makes this debut so successful. The first track 'You Like The Pain Too' is ringed with innocence, Shy Girls' smooth and flowing vocals echoing above the piano and creaking cello, telling a tale about love and passion. It's dark and moody atmosphere pairs with its seemingly naked core, providing a sense that you're really looking into the mind of Shy Girls as well as that he's speaking from his heart. 'Watercolor Dreams' follows up with a bit more drive, guitars and a drum beat challengingly moving forward as Shy Girls sings with more subtle rage in his voice. The harmonies in this track really sell it as something big, though a bigger, more grand ending could've made it all the more better.
The end of the album comes with some more energetic tracks in terms of sound. 'What If I Can' culminates to some brassy synths playing over a light beat and moody pianos after the electronic and pained beginning of the track. 'I Am Only A Man is full of big, dramatic synth hits between its beautiful piano verses, Shy Girls' crying falsettos bringing the track to a big end. There's also some slower numbers, like closing track 'Collecting,' its bluesy and moody piano ringing with the same revealing nature as the introduction. The song has a more electronic build than the prior track, though, and grows in warmth rather than in sorrow.
As it is a debut, there are some places where this album could be improved. The center of the album feels a bit run down, starting with 'Trivial Motion.' The 80s pop sound has been overdone and feels genuinely outdated as it is now, and while Shy Girls' delivery does provide a sweet overtone the song, it's something we've heard before time and time again. 'Why I Love' is pretty much the same song, except far more repetitive and tired sounding. A lot of this record needs more climax, as well, with nothing really reaching any high points.
Good pop is revealing, and that's exactly what Shy Girls' debut album Salt is. It's an intimate and revealing record that puts you in the longing and knowing mind of its singer, and it really pays off. This album may not be the perfect debut, but it is telling of a great future ahead: any artist daring enough to be this open on a debut is destined for success.
Favorite Tracks: You Like The Pain Too, Watercolor Dreams, I Am Only A Man
Least Favorite Track: Why I Love
Rating: 75 / 100
Buy or listen to Salt here: