Like most young men with guitars, Shawn Mendes realizes that he can’t rely on little girls begging their parents to buy his stuff anymore. Sure, they can stream his music, but you see, Mr Mendes realizes that it’s more fun to have older fans – fans that he can be photographed with without being embarrassed by people his age laughing at him, and fans he can sleep with without fearing that he will be arrested for statutory rape.
Hence, in addition to bulking up and showing up now and then as shirtless as the day God made Nick Jonas, he is now singing not just about staring mournfully after beautiful women who could never appreciate him for the Mr Right that he knows he is to them (the lead single Treat You Better, Ruin, etc), he is also going to drive to your place. No, not to wake you up from your sleep with “Surprise! Guess what’s stuck in your butt?” sex – that’s Roy Orbison’s shtick – but to offer to tear his skin off his bones as a sacrifice to you (Mercy), and to prove that he’s sincere, he’ll do that twice. So, people, be assured that he is an adult now. It’s okay, people, he’s eighteen now, and in Canada, Justin Trudeau says that it is now 2016 so it is officially allowed to Netflix and chill with Mr Mendes bleating mournfully in the background without feeling like that creepy underage kid from next door is spying on you again.
No, really, he loves you. He will never let go of your hand, and he will go through any extremes to cut himself and offer his heart to you to eat if you will only understand that he is the right one for you.
Meanwhile, the music is more of the same sort that was in his debut album. Even the more uptempo tunes are full of mournful puppy-is-sad emo vibes, so I must confess that after a while I really feel like moping myself. Even when it’s a break up song like Three Empty Words, he’s acting that he’d leave first so that he won’t break your heart. None of the songs here is an instant earworm like Stitches in the previous album, but I confess that I am very fond of Patience, which is just too catchy for words – it’s also the closest to Mr Mendes actually sounding a little bit happy. The rest of the songs aren’t bad, although there is an element of sameness to them that causes them to all blur together into one dreary pout fest after a while.
And he is not fooling me one bit. Any guy who tries this hard to paint himself as the most noble, romantic, righteous yet unappreciated loverboy most likely skins kittens and dance with their blood dripping from his mouth every other day in the basement. Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course. I confess that I have a chronic weakness for mad, bad boys, so as long as it’s kittens and not puppies, Shawn Mendes’s bleary-eyed psycho Eeyore musical trip in Illuminate is okay with me. Some variations in the nuances of his future music can’t hurt though, surely.