Album Review: Amy Shark – Love Monster

amy shark I said hi

Amy Shark sounds like you would expect her to on long awaited debut
After years of trying to force a break in the music industry, Amy Shark finally found success in 2016. The single ‘Adore’ became one of the biggest tracks of the year in her home country Australia and her debut EP Night Thinker continued the hype around the indie pop singer-songwriter. She embarked on an international tour, did some television appearances in the US and returned to the studio to put finishing touches on her long awaited debut LP Love Monster, which finally sees the light of day now!

Although ‘Adore’ of course could not be left off the record, she properly kicked off the campaign in April this year with the lead single ‘I Said Hi’, a catchy middle finger to all the men in the industry that did not give her a chance before she finally found success. The track is both sonically and lyrically representative of the full body of work; the content is blatantly honest, while the tracks are all made out of an acoustic base, layered up with echoing drums and smooth electronic soundscapes.

While Shark wrote most of the tracks on the record on her own and Dann Hume took care of the majority of the productions, she did collaborate with a few hit writers and producers too. Jack Antonoff of bands Bleachers and Fun. who also wrote with Taylor Swift and Lorde, produced and co-wrote ‘All Loved Up’. It is one of the most hit worthy tunes which pushes Amy to use the higher register of her vocals, while at the same time pushing her sound in even more polished pop territory. Long term Lorde collaborator Joel Little, who also produced for Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith, gave Amy’s sound some louder drums and deeper bass sounds on the track ‘Never Going Back’, which has one of the most instant choruses of the record. For Amy, the most exciting collab must have been ‘Psycho’ with Mark Hoppus of Blink-182. The result is a slowly building guitar-based duet with soaring vocals on Amy’s part, which complement Mark’s darker tones effortlessly. The best chorus on the album however, might well be the explosive ‘Mess Her Up’ with dynamic vocal delivery and a hook that won’t easily let go.

Lyrically, Amy Shark simply is one of a kind. She has a distinct style in which she paints a picture vividly with great detail, managing to make you feel exactly what she must have felt in the moment she describes. Promo single ‘Don’t Turn Around’, about holding on to a last bit hope after a break up, is the prime, heartbreaking example. Shark’s songwriting is generally nostalgic, looking back at adolescent romance. ‘The Slow Song’ (which would have been a beautiful addition to the 13 Reasons Why sountrack) brings back memories of a high school ball with your crush. “Is it me or did it just get hot in here? I thought you wouldn’t show and then you were there in front me looking incredibly lovely. Wait for a slow song…”, she sings over calm guitar riffs. Oh the feels!

With past romances, come the unsecurities experienced around a break up: “What part of me are you just not attracted to?”, she asks on the stunning album closer ‘You Think I Think I Sound Like God’. Her delivery on this track is unchallenged in all its fragility and longing. She dives into similar emotions on ‘Leave Us Alone’, which however seems to deal with a more recent break up, in which Amy lost her sense of self. “I don’t know who I am, I’m not fun anymore”, she sings over pulsing drums and a midtempo soaring chorus.

Amy Shark brought the hooks and the feels, just like we expected her to, on her impressive debut album Love Monster. It is not necessarily a sonically diverse record, but Amy painted a soundscape in which she truly flourishes and creates enough different tones and nuances to keep me hooked from start to finish.

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