Caroline Groff, Staff Writer
The release of Shamir’s fifth album “Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw” brings a pop synth sound with a soulful voice. There has been an interesting musical shift for the Philadelphia native since his most well-known single “On the Regular” came out in 2015. While his work has separated slightly from the indie pop roots they started from, this album does not stray away from the carefree, pop-country sounds the title embodies. Instead it mixes the sound with a melancholic post punk attitude.
The newest album was mixed by Zack Hanni and released exclusively on Bandcamp April 19. It comes with a total of eight tracks and a run time of only 25 minutes and 19 seconds. Coming off his last LP “Resolutions,” the most prevalent elements on the record, besides the short length, revolve around Shamir’s shaking, soulful voice and distorted guitar sound that aches with reverb. This distortion is the first thing heard on the album in the opening track “Tears Fall in Euphoria.” Mixing with heavy hitting, lyrically driven vocals, Shamir aims to pack a punch in the album’s short runtime—and succeeds.
On the surface, the instrumentation on most of the tracks may not seem to capture the yeehaw culture it insinuates, but there are extensive traces of country influence within the record. With the recent success of artists like Kacey Musgraves, some may think the title is an attempt to use a trend to accumulate the same success, but Shamir’s track record says otherwise. A quick listen to Shamir’s previous work shows the artist’s unique take on country-pop tradition. His previous two albums “Room” and “Resolution” both share sentiments of the hometown sound. Shamir has constantly shapeshifted to create pop-punk exteriors with lyrics revealing the true intentions of melancholy bluegrass.
An example of this ability is most prevalent in the track “Ultra.” The song seems to encompass the heart of the entire album. With the guitar’s whining reverb and heavy hitting drum sound, the instrumentation sounds reminiscent of The Cure’s “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.” However, the songs breakdown and lyrical content show the freshness and newness of the track. The song has the standout line, “I can’t help that I’m dissociating, even when I want to feel everything.” The song showcases the album’s overall theme. The music battles between wanting a good time while still having to face reality. More of that country daydream is found in tracks like “Strong” and “Death of A Pastor.” Filled with mostly vocals and a swinging guitar sound, the lyrics take a more narrative, story-like approach. Simple instrumental motion creates room and space within each song. While the guitar and drums hit hard and heavy, the straightforward nature of each track’s chord progressions blends each song together.
The album ends similarly to its start with the final track “They all Control Us.” As the title explains, the song finishes off with the same distorted guitar and complimenting vocals to carry the dark undertones of the album to the end. “Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw” successfully shows Shamir’s ability to blend country roots into a melancholic-pop landscape. It shows a classic Americana picture shoved into a gothic, punk rock infused frame. Its optimism is met with an irreverent harshness, showing the state of youth culture today—having fun while facing impending doom.