Shygirl – ‘Nymph’ review: pop rulebreaker shines with a little help from her friends

On her long-awaited debut album, the London-based artist unlocks a new level of intimacy and emotional depth in her songwriting

‘Nymph’, the debut album from London artist Shygirl, is an uncompromising, intimate reveal of an artist who has previously been seen through a single lens. Created with Shygirl’s close-knit group of friends and previous collaborators and producers including Mura Masa and Danny L Harle, the record sees the 29-year-old demystify the narrative around her – one of an incredibly bold, loud and confident individual – by delivering nimble falsettos underpinned by lyrics of vulnerability.

Embodying the mythical woodland creature that the album takes its name from, Shygirl reveals a softer side to themselves across 12 richly crafted tracks. Opener ‘Woe’ begins with ethereal synths underneath soft drum pads and rolling clacks, over which Shygirl sings “I don’t have no friends with me / no best friends”. Sonically and lyrically, the track feels like a direct contradiction to her 2020 EP, ‘ALIAS’, which was inspired by a collective longing for the club during the height of the pandemic-induced lockdown.

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Arca-produced ‘Come For Me’ is an off-kilter, rave-primed anthem that dazzles with brilliantly pointed lyrics: “Looking for a diamond in the rough / Who’s that gonna be? / I’m looking at you”, Shygirl giddily sings are one point. In places, however, Arca’s abstract production style feels a little erratic against Shygirl’s bubbly and cheeky wordplay – yet the pair manage to twirl in tandem deftly enough to create a memorable tune.

Over triplet hi-hats and snappy snares, ‘Shlut’ carves itself out to be a powerful self-care anthem, while ‘Little Bit’ is a bass-heavy tune which would make for a moment of real euphoria at any party. Lead single ‘Firefly’, meanwhile, plays with a punchy pop melody as Shygirl sings of loss and creating a space for yourself at times of hardship. Her airy vocal soars above the bright and infectious production: “Easy to break away, make a little change,” she sings of the breakdown of a previous relationship.“It’s been so nice to pretend we could be together again”. 

A standout moment comes in the form of the playfully-titled ‘Coochie (a bedtime story)’. With its gleaming electronics and deliciously tongue-in-cheek lyrics – “It be calling to me / right next to the juicy booty / oh so juicy” – layered over bass claps, the track is instantly engaging. Its a brilliantly saucy highlight, one that sees Shygirl let loose and display her larger-than-life personality.

On ‘Nymph’, Shygirl creates a gleaming collage of club sounds, with each element wholly unique in its execution. After working tirelessly on her long-awaited debut album for a number of years, the juice has clearly been worth the squeeze: this record is a striking reminder of why Shygirl is one of the capital’s brightest talents.

Details

shygirl nymph albumRelease date: September 30

Record label: Because Music

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