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Nymph’s uncanny pleasure captures the earthy sexuality of Shygirl’s next chapter

Shygirl surprises on Nymph, plus new releases by Priya Ragu, Bree Runway, Ciara and yuné pinku.

06 Oct 2022

It is a bold move by Shygirl not to include both of her most popular singles – ‘BDE’ and ‘Cleo’ – on the tracklisting for her debut album, Nymph, but as we are all aware, Shygirl has never been one for convention. Why bother selling out on fan expectations when, spiritually, you are not in that space anymore? 

Preceded by a clutch of singles – ‘Firefly’, ‘Come For Me’, ‘Coochie (a bedtime story)’, and ‘Nike’ – the progression of her releases has methodically guided fans through the sonic palette of the album, all the way from high-energy, club-ready garage to chunky bass notes and hip hop production. Nymph is a project that is a labour of friendship, Shygirl enlisting previous collaborators Sega Bodega, Mura Masa, and Arca, alongside producers Danny L Harle, Noah Goldstein, and BloodPop to help bring her tapestry to life. ‘Heaven’, for example, is a sugar-coated PC Music-glazed dream, and if the current mainstream house resurgence peaked with Rennaissance, Shygirl’s ‘Honey’ is Beyoncé dialled all the way down; it’s not the crest of the night itself, but the lucid exit song before stumbling to the afterparty. 

The most striking thing about Nymph is the realignment of Shygirl’s sexuality. Ever impossible to ignore yet previously so aggressive (consider the abrasive sound of her second EP, Alias, for example), Nymph finds Shygirl’s ravenous hunger sated and partaking in her meal solely for the pleasure of the experience. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Shygirl – real name Blane Muise – said: “With Alias, it was all very surface level, it wasn’t that deep, but that’s a privilege to be able to be playful and carefree. And that was always something that I really needed to tell myself that I could be in that time, too.” She understands how listeners can find her music liberating, but adds that “moving into this kind of next phase with Nymph now, I want to be a bit deeper and vulnerable.”

As seen in Nymph’s opening tracks, the result is a grounded yet earthy sexuality that tempts passers-by into her underworld lair of lust and pleasure. Album opener ‘Woe’ captures a heady air and collapse of time with its cyclical Lynchian whirr, while ‘Little Bit’ captures the thumping, wriggling fun synonymous with Shygirl’s universe. It may be a different chapter, but the tenacious dexterity of Nymph is all still part of the same Shygirl story.

Shygirl – ‘Shlut’

For a track entitled ‘Shlut’, Shygirl’s latest is perhaps one of the most understated outings she’s done. This isn’t a clattering ‘BDE’ or ‘Cleo’-style mysticism, but instead a shuffling, guitar-plucked, flute-decorated invitation to join her in her boudoir. Produced by Bloodpop, the track trades her often aggressive thirst for one more alluring and vulnerable, Shygirl dreaming of being “wanted, ravished, mauled, adored” while relaying her desire. It’s more sensual than ravenous, with an unravelling, uncanny air that shows a whole new shade to her otherworldly desire.

Priya Ragu – ‘Adalam Va!’

Having dropped comeback single, ‘Illuminous’, in March of this year, fans were waiting with bated breath for a full-scale Priya Ragu assault. However, the delay can be forgiven thanks to new drop ‘Adalam Va’, for it’s everything we expect of Priya and more. Landing in tandem with a high-octane video, the track packs a potent punch (both literally and figuratively) that builds upon her Tamil-inflected, Ragu-wavy fusion first debuted in last year’s mixtape damnshetamil. Dancing around wriggling rhythms and brash brass interjections, in ‘Adalam Va!’ Priya delivers “hope in the darkest of days. It’s about the fresh energy that emerges out of these times.”

Bree Runway – ‘That Girl’

‘I already be that girl’, deadpans Bree Runway in her latest single. ‘That Girl’ is an aptly titled comeback for an artist who is still keeping fans dangling with the prospect of a follow-up to her 2020 debut album 2000AND4EVA. Having since dropped singles ‘Pressure’, ‘Somebody Like You’ and the iconic ‘Hot Hot’, ‘That Girl’ is the intense, club-ready stomper that we’ve all been waiting for; chunky bass notes reverberate under a skittish beat and energetic melodies, Bree reinforcing to any naysayers that she has always been it. “This song automatically makes me feel like the main character in the middle of a sweaty club, and I’m just oozing sex, glamour and confidence whilst everybody watches,” shares Bree. “It’s my everyday reminder of how fabulous I am, and it’s your new everyday reminder too – you’re automatically a 10 if you: turn this on, fuck with it, press play and feel liberated, pumped up, and free.”

Ciara and Summer Walker – ‘Better Thangs’

The underrated R&B queen of the 00s, Ciara’s collaboration with Summer Walker has reintroduced her as a pop star still wholly relevant almost 20 years on from her debut album Goodie. New single ‘Better Thangs’ may be cut from a classic cloth, but its smooth threads feel fresh despite the comforting familiarity of its laidback beats, rich tone and self-assured vocal. Harking to the good life akin to its title, the track captures a light energy that inspires all to get out there and create the life they deserve. “I hope that people hear this song and they feel inspired. I hope it sparks something in their thoughts that they need to just elevate,” says Ciara. “It is about going to that next level and pursuing the better things in life across the board. Whether it’s work goals or self goals. I just really hope people feel inspired to go and get what’s theirs and get what they deserve.

yunè pinku – ‘Jaws’

yunè pinku has been making waves these past few months courtesy of her icily cool brand of house music, and latest outing ‘Jaws’ marks the next step in her evolution. Returning following the success of her debut EP Bluff, the singer and producer weaves a heady concoction of breakbeats, stabbing keys and head-bopping rhythms, the track captures the warm, liberated lucidity of the club and is her preferred way to round off the headspace of her previous project. “Jaws to me is about being perpetually fed up of compromise, I guess in a way leaning into the inner warrior or villain that we all have inside of us; in this case I thought of a boxer!” yunè shares. “The song has existed for a quite a while now but it’s sort of a closing score to my project Bluff, I think a bit of a last hurrah for the angsty stuff and making way for the more tender, experimental on coming music.”

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