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Pop - Released December 4, 2020 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

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Wonder is the first album Shawn Mendes has released as an adult, so perhaps it's appropriate that the 2020 record feels like the work of a musician who has entered a period of maturation. It's not so much that Wonder feels stiff or stuffy, as if Mendes were writing songs for an older version of himself. Rather, Mendes attempts a variety of styles and sounds while also expanding his emotional range. Love and self-doubt remain at the core of his obsessions, yet he's allowing himself to feel some joy and fun, even inviting Justin Bieber in for a verse on "Monster." This lifting of grey clouds counts for a lot, particularly as it's combined with playful genre experimentation. "305" is a nimble bit of new wave power pop, the neo-disco "Piece of You" pulsates to a glitter-ball beat, and "Higher" and "Teach Me How to Love" are sleek examples of modern R&B. Combined, these moments don't amount to half of Wonder, but they're enough to keep the album moving and pulsing as Mendes glides through his signature ballads. While the slower songs are fine, sometimes sincere, the growth on Wonder is all evident on the livelier tunes, all of which point toward a more adventurous twenties for Shawn Mendes. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 21, 2019 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Pop - Released September 23, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Shawn Mendes translated his Vine superstardom into genuine pop stardom in 2015 thanks to "Stitches," a lively piece of pop with a slightly soulful undercurrent. Wisely, Mendes and his team decide to play off these soulful inclinations on Illuminate, the album released almost 18 months after his 2015 debut Handwritten. This isn't to say that Mendes is a crooner, nor is he riding anything resembling a funky groove. Instead, Illuminate uses light R&B rhythms as a way to give a bit of grace and warmth, the airiness of "Ruin" and "Three Empty Words" spinning heartbreak into seduction. As it turns out, this wide-eyed puppy dog routine is the key to Mendes' appeal. He's not forceful, and whenever he slides into a loverman routine, there's never a sense that he's a player: his voice is so small and sweet, it feels as if he's whispering sweet nothings to his high school sweetheart. On Handwritten, such quivering sensitivity seemed tentative, but on Illuminate, it has gelled into his pop persona; he's charming because he embraces his ordinariness. Sometimes on Illuminate the songs are a bit too diffuse to benefit from these qualities -- whenever they lack a hook or pronounced melody, the tracks tend to drift -- but a lot of the record provides a good showcase for his tenderness. And these aren't necessarily ballads, either. Certainly, he feels at home on a nice slow-burning torch number like "Don't Be a Fool" -- an old-fashioned slice of swaying '60s soul -- but on the insistent pop of "Treat You Better" and sunny seaside vibes of "Honest," this boyishness is equally appealing, and those sly shifts in tone are why Mendes comes into his own on Illuminate. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 25, 2018 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Picking up the thread left dangling from 2016's Illuminate, Shawn Mendes decides to create an even more fashionable set of soulful pop on his eponymous 2018 album. Mendes remains a quivering adolescent presence -- he was still 19 years old when this album saw release -- but his self-titled record is assured and quietly confident in a way that suggests he has his adulthood on his mind. He doesn't abandon the soft-focus soul that turned "Stitches" into a breakthrough smash, but he deepens his groove and polishes his surfaces, all the while concentrating on crafting sturdy songs. Never mind that the album gets off to a shaky start with "In My Blood," an anonymous arena rock number that suggests he equates playing rock to the rafters with real music, a notion that's dispelled by the remainder of the record. He builds Shawn Mendes on lithe, tuneful R&B numbers, happy to have songs be as mellowly effervescent as "Queen" or as modern as the gently pulsating "Youth," which is graced by an appearance from Khalid. Mendes occupies a space between modern R&B and Ed Sheeran's earnest balladeering, but the key to his success -- both commercially and artistically -- is his light touch. There's a palpable sweetness to music that endures, even when a production is as bright and glistening as it is on Shawn Mendes. That bodes well for the future that Shawn Mendes is so evidently planning for. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 4, 2020 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

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Wonder is the first album Shawn Mendes has released as an adult, so perhaps it's appropriate that the 2020 record feels like the work of a musician who has entered a period of maturation. It's not so much that Wonder feels stiff or stuffy, as if Mendes were writing songs for an older version of himself. Rather, Mendes attempts a variety of styles and sounds while also expanding his emotional range. Love and self-doubt remain at the core of his obsessions, yet he's allowing himself to feel some joy and fun, even inviting Justin Bieber in for a verse on "Monster." This lifting of grey clouds counts for a lot, particularly as it's combined with playful genre experimentation. "305" is a nimble bit of new wave power pop, the neo-disco "Piece of You" pulsates to a glitter-ball beat, and "Higher" and "Teach Me How to Love" are sleek examples of modern R&B. Combined, these moments don't amount to half of Wonder, but they're enough to keep the album moving and pulsing as Mendes glides through his signature ballads. While the slower songs are fine, sometimes sincere, the growth on Wonder is all evident on the livelier tunes, all of which point toward a more adventurous twenties for Shawn Mendes. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 3, 2017 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Following the success of his second number one album, 2016's Illuminate, Shawn Mendes, returned with MTV Unplugged. This is the first session of the long-running music channel's planned reboot of the classic '90s performance series. Recorded live in September 2017 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, the intimate acoustic session finds Mendes running through a handful of his most-loved songs. Included are such cuts as "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back," "Stitches," and "Three Empty Words." © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 20, 2015 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Shawn Mendes circumvented traditional routes to a recording contract by posting short clips of himself singing other people's songs on the video-sharing service Vine. These were no more than a few seconds -- Vine's restrictions set the limit at six seconds, which is hardly enough time to cover a chorus -- but it was enough to set some teenage hearts aflutter, which led to a contract with Island, which led to an EP in 2014, which led to the full-length debut Handwritten in 2015. That was a two-year march to an album, which should've been enough time for Mendes to learn how to engage a listener for at least 60 seconds, but Handwritten is pretty thin gruel. Some of this is down to material, songs that feel like a laboratory-generated fusion of Jason Mraz's singsong loverman schtick and Ryan Tedder's icy adult contemporary. Although he has songwriting credits on two-thirds of Handwritten, he can't be blamed for the rinky-dink tunes: his producers could've sharpened the hooks so they all stuck like those on "Stitches" and "Kid in Love." What he can be blamed for is the fact that he can't hold the audience's attention for any longer than on Vine, relying on his puppy-dog eyes and croon to get him through a song. Cute he may be, but he has charisma that lasts no longer than a GIF, as Handwritten makes painfully clear. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 20, 2020 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

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Pop - Released October 2, 2020 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

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Pop - Released September 23, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Shawn Mendes translated his Vine superstardom into genuine pop stardom in 2015 thanks to "Stitches," a lively piece of pop with a slightly soulful undercurrent. Wisely, Mendes and his team decide to play off these soulful inclinations on Illuminate, the album released almost 18 months after his 2015 debut Handwritten. This isn't to say that Mendes is a crooner, nor is he riding anything resembling a funky groove. Instead, Illuminate uses light R&B rhythms as a way to give a bit of grace and warmth, the airiness of "Ruin" and "Three Empty Words" spinning heartbreak into seduction. As it turns out, this wide-eyed puppy dog routine is the key to Mendes' appeal. He's not forceful, and whenever he slides into a loverman routine, there's never a sense that he's a player: his voice is so small and sweet, it feels as if he's whispering sweet nothings to his high school sweetheart. On Handwritten, such quivering sensitivity seemed tentative, but on Illuminate, it has gelled into his pop persona; he's charming because he embraces his ordinariness. Sometimes on Illuminate the songs are a bit too diffuse to benefit from these qualities -- whenever they lack a hook or pronounced melody, the tracks tend to drift -- but a lot of the record provides a good showcase for his tenderness. And these aren't necessarily ballads, either. Certainly, he feels at home on a nice slow-burning torch number like "Don't Be a Fool" -- an old-fashioned slice of swaying '60s soul -- but on the insistent pop of "Treat You Better" and sunny seaside vibes of "Honest," this boyishness is equally appealing, and those sly shifts in tone are why Mendes comes into his own on Illuminate. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 26, 2019 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Picking up the thread left dangling from 2016's Illuminate, Shawn Mendes decides to create an even more fashionable set of soulful pop on his eponymous 2018 album. Mendes remains a quivering adolescent presence -- he was still 19 years old when this album saw release -- but his self-titled record is assured and quietly confident in a way that suggests he has his adulthood on his mind. He doesn't abandon the soft-focus soul that turned "Stitches" into a breakthrough smash, but he deepens his groove and polishes his surfaces, all the while concentrating on crafting sturdy songs. Never mind that the album gets off to a shaky start with "In My Blood," an anonymous arena rock number that suggests he equates playing rock to the rafters with real music, a notion that's dispelled by the remainder of the record. He builds Shawn Mendes on lithe, tuneful R&B numbers, happy to have songs be as mellowly effervescent as "Queen" or as modern as the gently pulsating "Youth," which is graced by an appearance from Khalid. Mendes occupies a space between modern R&B and Ed Sheeran's earnest balladeering, but the key to his success -- both commercially and artistically -- is his light touch. There's a palpable sweetness to music that endures, even when a production is as bright and glistening as it is on Shawn Mendes. That bodes well for the future that Shawn Mendes is so evidently planning for. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 3, 2019 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Pop - Released April 14, 2015 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Shawn Mendes circumvented traditional routes to a recording contract by posting short clips of himself singing other people's songs on the video-sharing service Vine. These were no more than a few seconds -- Vine's restrictions set the limit at six seconds, which is hardly enough time to cover a chorus -- but it was enough to set some teenage hearts aflutter, which led to a contract with Island, which led to an EP in 2014, which led to the full-length debut Handwritten in 2015. That was a two-year march to an album, which should've been enough time for Mendes to learn how to engage a listener for at least 60 seconds, but Handwritten is pretty thin gruel. Some of this is down to material, songs that feel like a laboratory-generated fusion of Jason Mraz's singsong loverman schtick and Ryan Tedder's icy adult contemporary. Although he has songwriting credits on two-thirds of Handwritten, he can't be blamed for the rinky-dink tunes: his producers could've sharpened the hooks so they all stuck like those on "Stitches" and "Kid in Love." What he can be blamed for is the fact that he can't hold the audience's attention for any longer than on Vine, relying on his puppy-dog eyes and croon to get him through a song. Cute he may be, but he has charisma that lasts no longer than a GIF, as Handwritten makes painfully clear. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 20, 2021 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

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Pop - Released December 23, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Released three months after Illuminate, Live at Madison Square Garden is a digital-only document of Shawn Mendes' September 10, 2016 concert in New York City. Illuminate was still on the horizon -- it'd show up on September 23 -- but the crowd was primed for Mendes, who delivered earnest renditions of his hits, a couple of medleys, and teasers from the new record. If the record isn't especially kinetic, it's nevertheless sincere and Mendes relies on the same increasing sense of craft that made his sophomore record stronger than his debut, which helps make this a nice little souvenir for fans. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 12, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Shawn Mendes circumvented traditional routes to a recording contract by posting short clips of himself singing other people's songs on the video-sharing service Vine. These were no more than a few seconds -- Vine's restrictions set the limit at six seconds, which is hardly enough time to cover a chorus -- but it was enough to set some teenage hearts aflutter, which led to a contract with Island, which led to an EP in 2014, which led to the full-length debut Handwritten in 2015. That was a two-year march to an album, which should've been enough time for Mendes to learn how to engage a listener for at least 60 seconds, but Handwritten is pretty thin gruel. Some of this is down to material, songs that feel like a laboratory-generated fusion of Jason Mraz's singsong loverman schtick and Ryan Tedder's icy adult contemporary. Although he has songwriting credits on two-thirds of Handwritten, he can't be blamed for the rinky-dink tunes: his producers could've sharpened the hooks so they all stuck like those on "Stitches" and "Kid in Love." What he can be blamed for is the fact that he can't hold the audience's attention for any longer than on Vine, relying on his puppy-dog eyes and croon to get him through a song. Cute he may be, but he has charisma that lasts no longer than a GIF, as Handwritten makes painfully clear. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 4, 2020 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

Wonder is the first album Shawn Mendes has released as an adult, so perhaps it's appropriate that the 2020 record feels like the work of a musician who has entered a period of maturation. It's not so much that Wonder feels stiff or stuffy, as if Mendes were writing songs for an older version of himself. Rather, Mendes attempts a variety of styles and sounds while also expanding his emotional range. Love and self-doubt remain at the core of his obsessions, yet he's allowing himself to feel some joy and fun, even inviting Justin Bieber in for a verse on "Monster." This lifting of grey clouds counts for a lot, particularly as it's combined with playful genre experimentation. "305" is a nimble bit of new wave power pop, the neo-disco "Piece of You" pulsates to a glitter-ball beat, and "Higher" and "Teach Me How to Love" are sleek examples of modern R&B. Combined, these moments don't amount to half of Wonder, but they're enough to keep the album moving and pulsing as Mendes glides through his signature ballads. While the slower songs are fine, sometimes sincere, the growth on Wonder is all evident on the livelier tunes, all of which point toward a more adventurous twenties for Shawn Mendes. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 4, 2020 | Shawn Mendes LP4-5 PS - Island

Hi-Res
Wonder is the first album Shawn Mendes has released as an adult, so perhaps it's appropriate that the 2020 record feels like the work of a musician who has entered a period of maturation. It's not so much that Wonder feels stiff or stuffy, as if Mendes were writing songs for an older version of himself. Rather, Mendes attempts a variety of styles and sounds while also expanding his emotional range. Love and self-doubt remain at the core of his obsessions, yet he's allowing himself to feel some joy and fun, even inviting Justin Bieber in for a verse on "Monster." This lifting of grey clouds counts for a lot, particularly as it's combined with playful genre experimentation. "305" is a nimble bit of new wave power pop, the neo-disco "Piece of You" pulsates to a glitter-ball beat, and "Higher" and "Teach Me How to Love" are sleek examples of modern R&B. Combined, these moments don't amount to half of Wonder, but they're enough to keep the album moving and pulsing as Mendes glides through his signature ballads. While the slower songs are fine, sometimes sincere, the growth on Wonder is all evident on the livelier tunes, all of which point toward a more adventurous twenties for Shawn Mendes. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 16, 2016 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Pop - Released April 14, 2015 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Shawn Mendes circumvented traditional routes to a recording contract by posting short clips of himself singing other people's songs on the video-sharing service Vine. These were no more than a few seconds -- Vine's restrictions set the limit at six seconds, which is hardly enough time to cover a chorus -- but it was enough to set some teenage hearts aflutter, which led to a contract with Island, which led to an EP in 2014, which led to the full-length debut Handwritten in 2015. That was a two-year march to an album, which should've been enough time for Mendes to learn how to engage a listener for at least 60 seconds, but Handwritten is pretty thin gruel. Some of this is down to material, songs that feel like a laboratory-generated fusion of Jason Mraz's singsong loverman schtick and Ryan Tedder's icy adult contemporary. Although he has songwriting credits on two-thirds of Handwritten, he can't be blamed for the rinky-dink tunes: his producers could've sharpened the hooks so they all stuck like those on "Stitches" and "Kid in Love." What he can be blamed for is the fact that he can't hold the audience's attention for any longer than on Vine, relying on his puppy-dog eyes and croon to get him through a song. Cute he may be, but he has charisma that lasts no longer than a GIF, as Handwritten makes painfully clear. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo