As recent trends in mainstream pop have shifted to include more upbeat, disco inflected energies once more, a shift evidenced by a string of recent releases from Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Kylie Minogue and most successfully of all, Dua Lipa, the more avant-garde end of the pop spectrum has similarly flourished in proportion. The UK’s deconstructed club scene has been a growing force within pop music, with a spreading audible influence and a growing catalogue of new artists. One such rising star of the scene is NUXXE’s Shygirl, a.k.a Blane Muise, who has made a bid to consolidate the upward trajectory of her singles through a debut EP, Alias.
The collection of seven tracks delivered on Alias supposedly present four distinct facets to the artist’s personality, though the central dichotomy of the persona presented is between an active and a more passive participation in what is the project’s principal theme: sex. At times she portrays herself as a willing vessel, tempest-tossed by the beat flowing through her, at others a relentless sexual demon, exhausting anyone brave enough to try their luck dancing in her storm.
On the euphoric closing track “Siren” she adopts a third person persona, cautioning others away from the unruly succubus she portrays herself as, though even here, it sounds more like an invitation and a promise than a legitimate warning. It’s also probably the most orthodox and un-deconstructed club track here, though that isn’t to say it isn’t one of the best, it may even be my favourite, as Happa’s bassline is just such a strong groove. Every track here has a thematic laser focus on bodies on bodies, whether it is on the dancefloor or the floor of the living room.
Thankfully though there’s far more in the sonic play of the release to keep it varied and consistently engaging. NUXXE label co-founder Sega Bodega handles the bulk of the production on the project with associated producers such as SOPHIE, Kai Whiston and Karma Kid also contributing to some tracks. Each moment on the album is engineered to perfection, listening to Alias really does make you feel like you’re standing in the middle of the dancefloor of a crowded club, speakers blaring in four corners, being bumped hip to hip with one of Shygirl’s hungry personae.
The songs presented are all soundly constructed, with dynamic and varied structures as well as sonics. “Leng”, for example, is almost all chorus and pre-chorus, while the opening track “Twelve” is constructed of five punchy verses with no repeated chorus. The former track is one of the moments where Shygirl’s UK grime influence comes through most strongly in her authoritative vocal delivery, with cascading arpeggios of warbling synth and rumbling bassline. Throughout the album, Shygirl has no shortage of charisma, although as a consequence of the conceptual nature of the project, she herself remains rather aloof.
“Tasty” has more of a tropical house styling to the bustling lead melodies, pulsating synth chords and breakbeat percussion. It’s a definite highlight with a rich and propulsive groove and more delicate presence from Shygirl, for once living up to her name a little. Live up to its name is certainly something that the sinister, clicky and noisy “Bawdy” does as well, with a stabbing, sweaty urgency and hauntingly booming background wails. The project also includes two previously released singles, “Slime” and “Freak”, the former styling Shygirl as a sexual rottweiler with literal growling in the SOPHIE and Kai Whiston produced beat, and the latter a raging and demented hip-house cut with a druggy, lurid instrumental.
At seven tracks long, and only one of which songs pushing beyond three minutes, Alias is a taut and airtight listen, drawing the listener into the sultry depths of a club atmosphere that many have had reason to miss of late. The EP releases on November 20 via NUXXE and a vinyl release on December 5 via Shygirl.tv.