Last week Shamir Bailey bared his soul to Out magazine. He admitted that he’d been dropped by his label; that the throwback disco vibe of his acclaimed 2015 debut LP, Ratchet, was only an experiment, and it wasn’t a sound he cared to be locked into; and that his recorded-in-a-weekend, Mac DeMarco-inspired lo-fi sophomore LP Hope, released for free via Soundcloud, is the result of his desire to “make something real.”
Judged on those merits, Hope is a victory; it kept the North Las Vegas native from quitting the music business. As to its musical merit, well, you tell me. Personally, I like these sloppy and honestly-expressed songs—all of them muddy-sounding, and a couple of them literally unfinished—and some real gems, like the post-punk-y “Tom Kelly” and “One More Time Won’t Kill You,” emerge on repeated listen.
That said, I could also understand fans of Ratchet and 2014 EP Northtown showing up for more of Shamir’s spacey, countertenor-sweetened boogie and being disappointed by Hope’s bed of amplifier buzz. You’ll know right away: If you’re still onboard halfway through the album-opening title track, with its angry guitar sheen and plaintive vocal (“I hope, I hope, I hope for me and you again”), you’ll like the next nine songs, too. If not, he’s promised two more albums soon. That’s three more Shamir records than we might have gotten otherwise.