For years now, I’ve been following the artistic trajectory of rapper and DJ Blane Muise, who goes by the stage name Shygirl. I first heard of her through her 2019 singles “Uckers” and “BB”, the former of which really took off on TikTok. In 2020, she released an EP titled ALIAS, a project that packed a lot of punch within its 19-minute runtime. And since then, Shygirl’s been featured on songs by Arca, Mura Masa, FKA twigs, and even on a remix of “Sour Candy” by Lady Gaga and BLACKPINK.
On September 30, Shygirl released her debut studio album, Nymph, through independent record label Because Music. The album is a very collaborative one, with the co-writing and producing credits including familiar names like Arca and Mura Masa, as well as Shygirl’s longtime collaborator Sega Bodega.
I really enjoyed all five of the singles that Shygirl put out in anticipation of the album’s release. The lead single, “Firefly,” which was released on May 10, is such an earworm. Shygirl’s voice sounds really beautiful on it, as she sings about waiting around, being lied to, and needing to “hear the truth”. “Come For Me,” which came out June 6, was a perfect second single and is a great second track for the album. The production from Arca provides contrast, depth, and darkness, which sounds excellent underneath Shygirl’s hip-hop-style delivery.
“Coochie (a bedtime story),” released July 20, is the single that really made me look forward to the release of this album. The three-minute track is just brilliant, both sonically and lyrically. Shygirl starts the song as if she’s talking on the phone, with the question, “Hello? Is anyone there?” She goes on to say, “It’s the coochie calling.” The song is breathy, seductive, funny, and does a good job of showcasing that Shygirl’s musical persona can be sexy while not taking herself too seriously.
I’m also a huge fan of the fifth and final single, “Shlut,” which Shygirl put out on September 27, just three days before the release of the full album. Sega Bodega provides background vocals on this track, and because of that, it sounds a lot like something we could’ve heard on his 2021 album Romeo, one of my favorite albums from last year. The song is both vulgar and full of yearning, with Shygirl singing that she “can’t deal” with the thought of her lover leaving.
The rest of the album does not disappoint, and the two standout tracks for me are the album opener, “Woe,” and Track 7, named “Heaven.” Shygirl told Apple Music that “Woe” is about her acclimating to having an audience and how loud the voices of that audience can be. On it, she asks if the audience even knows “what it’s like this high?” This lyric seems to point to the idea that artists tend to become lonelier as they become more successful; that success brings with it a more intense pressure for that artist to please their growing fanbase.
“Heaven” is exactly the kind of glitchy pop song I love. The refrain is as addicting as the kind of sticky, on-again, off-again relationship Shygirl describes within the lyrics of the song. When describing the song to Apple Music, Shygirl mentioned that she was thinking about when she broke up with her ex-boyfriend. “In some moments, my ex was my peace and my place of absolute escape,” she says. “And that’s what I equated to heaven at that point.”
What Nymph does best through its 12 tracks is showcase Shygirl’s versatility as an artist. She can be reflective on a song like “Woe”, sensual on a track like “Shlut”, silly, as we see on “Coochie (a bedtime story)”, and she can keep her delivery lighthearted and cute on “Heaven”. All of these things make up her artistic persona, and that’s part of the reason she’s been able to maintain a discography that is always evolving in interesting ways. Nymph surpassed the already-high expectations I had for her debut album, and I’m excited to see what she and her collaborators come up with in the future.
The source of the image is Stereogum, and the copyright owner is Shygirl.
Written by: Jordan Young