Track Review: Shawn Mendes Kicks Off New Era with “Wonder”

The steady rise of Shawn Mendes has been intriguing to follow. From Magcon, Vine, and “Life of the Party” to his 2x-Grammy nominated self-titled album which featured such hits as “In My Blood,” “Lost In Japan,” “If I Can’t Have You,” and “Señorita,” Shawn Mendes has been steadily staking his claim for the title of reigning pop king.

After laying low for most of 2020, Shawn is gearing up to release his fourth studio album, Wonder. The Canadian singer-songwriter released the album’s intro and title track as the first tastes of the new record. The majestic “Intro” features a twinkling piano and soft vocal that is grounded by Shawn’s slightly raspy falsetto. Sonically, Shawn is staunchly in Coldplay territory — somewhere between the stylings X&Y and Mylo Xyloto. The real focus, “Wonder,” written by Mendes, Scott Harris (Selena Gomez, Niall Horan), Kid Harpoon (Harry Styles, Jessie Ware), and Nathaniel Mercereau (“Lost In Japan”), is another solid step in Shawn’s musical evolution. He launched his last album with the rousing “In My Blood,” a song that drew from arena rock and focused on anxiety. On the other hand, with “Wonder,” Shawn crafts a lush power ballad that builds on layers of guitars, drums, horns, and synths. The song begins and ends with cascading layers of background vocals that sonically interpret the urgency of the lyrics. Throughout the song, Shawn muses about myriad topics ranging from his relationships at his new level of fame to the negative impact of toxic masculinity on his life (“I wonder, when I cry into my hands/I’m conditioned to feel like it makes me less of a man”). “Wonder” is a stunning moment of reflection and the song authentically showcases Shawn’s maturity.

The strongest part of “Wonder” is the percussive bridge before the outro. The vibrant drums and triumphant synths and horns evoke that feeling of release and freedom that Shawn’s emotional vocal performance has been working towards for the entire song. Shawn’s last album gifted him his first #1 and Grammy nominations, and, based on “Wonder,” there will certainly be more of those in his future.

Score: 70

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