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On Club Shy, Shygirl inhales countless more references and exhales the potential brilliance dance music can have

"Club Shy"

Release date: 09 February 2024
Shygirl – Club Shy – Album Artwork
09 February 2024, 00:00 Written by Callum Foulds

After two albums in two years, you could forgive Shygirl for perhaps taking a year off.

Instead, Blaine Muse carries the torch of Shygirl's infectious underground electronica teased so deftly on 2023's Nymph_o and Nymph in the Wild EP on to the pulsing neon lights of the equally infectious Club Shy.

Much of Club Shy firmly leans into the nightclub sounds quietly developed on debut album Nymph; most notably, “Poison” had a “Club Shy mix” that seemed to accidently blow the original out of the water. From the first throbbing bubbles of “4ever,” it is emphatically clear that Club Shy is a different kind of Shygirl release, one that continues the streak of paying homage to club ready tracks.

The best moments of Club Shy are when it completely indulges in paying reverence to the dance hits of the late 90s and early 2000s: “mute” shows love to classic floor fillers like Robin S.’ “Show Me Love;” and the Boys Noize collaboration “tell me” bears resemblance to up-and-coming trance producers Aamourocean and TDJ, with stomping beats and sunny synths that are one part saccharine and one part euphoric. “mr useless” sounds like the younger sister of “Castles In The Sky” by Ian van Dahl, where the listener is instantly transported to the thick humidity of mid-August nightclubbing in 2001; a remarkably evocative listening experience.

Where the current trend of artists and producers implementing electronic dance music from the turn of the century relies largely on the nostalgic hook of a hit (Kim Petras’ “Alone” takes Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone,” Charli XCX's “Beg For You” with September's "Cry For You," etc.), Club Shy possesses a feeling of intent to create something new, that whilst clearly wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve, still manages to inject a unique spin on the genre. It is this innovation and combination of styles that separates this body of work from the chart topping, sample-saturated tracks of today. Not that sampling is inherently bad, or that it points to a lack of creativity, but it is refreshing to hear catchy dancefloor fillers that are utterly new creations.

The sore point of Club Shy is it’s arguably short runtime – both overall and per track. Only the record's closer “thicc” passes the three minute mark, and the entire EP clocks in at just under 15 minutes. Despite this, this has ensured quality over quantity and makes up for the potential disappointment felt by listeners due to Club Shy’s speedy turnaround. The synths are fat, Shygirl’s voice steps into places she rarely visits, and it's absolutely everything you could want from a Shygirl club cut, soaring as it takes a victory lap around what has played prior.

Shygirl’s trajectory over the last best part of a decade has been satisfying to watch. The South-Londoner has effortlessly navigated industrial music, hip-hop, and electronica so seamlessly that the feat of blending all of this into one perfect debut album of 2022’s, Nymph, confirmed the creative force that Blaine Muse already is. Her take on the genre is nothing short of a lot of fun, and promises Shygirl’s next steps to be as equally exciting as those that came before.

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