021 :: NYMPH

Listen to "021 :: NYMPH" on Spreaker.


Nymph by Shygirl, released by Because Music in 2022. Listen / Buy direct


The music starts, and we are immediately surrounded by voices: oohs and aahs and scrambled chatter. It's like we've stepped inside the artist's mind and are about to discover what's there.

And when we arrive we are greeted by even more voices: a cooing baby, a smoky alto, a menacing guttural rattle. Then the voices start to swirl together, coalescing into an uneasy unison. The reverb feels endless, as the voices envelop us in their echoing chorus.

It's a sound that's like a dream, or rather, like the liminal space between sleep and waking, or the hazy hours at the end of a long night, those times when our thoughts begin to flicker in and out of consciousness and our sense of self starts to dissolve into the world around us.

If we've stepped inside the artist's mind, that mind has thus far only proven to be elusive, and we still have no idea of who this artist is.

And in case there were any question, this next song will not make the matter any clearer. Now the vocals themselves are warped and twisted, transformed into an unsteady warble. Instead of a kaleidoscopic medley of different voices, we have a single voice that's been splintered and shattered – like a broken mirror, providing only glimpses of the singer looking back at us. The singer even shifts between different kinds of vocal delivery, leaving us guessing as to whether they are singing or rapping or just whispering in our ear. Or maybe the point is that, with this artist, it's always all of the above.

What all this creates is a portrait of the artist that is, in effect, a blurry image – which is the perfect, and perhaps the only, way to portray an artist who is constantly shape-shifting and who has no single, stable identity to present.

And the music isn't always this same dark tone, either. If only to offer up more complexities and contradictions, the singer shows us that they can also go full-on pop. Here is a melody that is infectiously catchy, bouncy, and upbeat – but to keep us on our toes, it's laid on top of a beat that is punchy, glitchy, and frenetic. And to keep us even more on our toes, the song then turns on a dime, jettisoning everything but the low-end and letting the singer's voice reverberate in the newly open space. But before long, we're glitching back into the matrix, returning to the song's hyperpop chorus yet again. And even though the main vocal is now front and centre and crisp and clear, it is still surrounded by a whirlwind of other voices: high-pitched harmonizations, down-pitched repetitions, chopped up moans and exhalations – little reminders that, even at their poppiest, this singer is never just one thing.

And as if to prove the point, the singer shows us that they can also go full-on bubblegum. But of course, the singer is going to subvert these expectations, too, presenting us with a sugary sweet song about, well...

Leave it to this artist to take the most carnal of desires and turn it into something that could reasonably pass for a preschool sing-a-long. Leave it to this artist to compose an ode to the female body that is neither lewd nor inane nor even poetic but just fun. And even though you can practically hear the singer winking at us, you also get the impression that they're being completely earnest.

Because that's what you get with this artist – a polyphonic persona that's always presenting another side of itself, creating a playground for all the different voices inside their head and showing us, in all their multiplicity, just who they are.

Liner Notes

I can't help but note that the cover art of Nymph is, fittingly, a blurry image of Shygirl, capturing her mid-movement, as if in the middle of shifting from one shape to another. I can't think of a better visual encapsulation of this album.