Friday, May 17th, 2019

Shawn Mendes – If I Can’t Have You

A deliberation over our subscription to Non-Threatening Boys Magazine


Scott Mildenhall: Or, “There’s Something Holdin’ Me Back”. At least, ostensibly, because this is almost over-insistent where it probably hopes to be uplifting. Everything is pounding and staccato, delivering a sense of urgency, but when that urgency is fuelled by its non-fulfilment, is it really fun for anyone concerned? It could be said that this needs to calm down, but the lulls it already has only make it more jarring. There’s a good song here, but it needs focus.

Andy Hutchins: It’s weird that something is holding Shawn back here, given that this is the same song as “Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” but warm strums and a smitten delivery admittedly work quite well for him, despite his limits.

Alfred Soto: Playing Nilüfer Yanya’s debut again this morning, I realized that precisely deployed guitar sguiggles and keyboards fascinate her and Shawn Mendes. So does polite vocal distortion. Mendes doesn’t distort himself enough.

Iris Xie: I’ve chewed on lint balls that had more taste than this.

Katherine St Asaph: Presumably Shawn Mendes et al. have heard Seinabo Sey’s “Good In You” out in public as much as I have. Because if they heard Yvonne Elliman, they’d not take this song anywhere near it.

Stephen Eisermann: Man, this is pretty fucking fun. It sounds like summer in a way that’s hard to explain, but I’ll try: you know that rare moment where everything feels like it’s going your way in your relationship, your job, your school, your LIFE and all of a sudden you realize you’re walking down a street with a big-ass grin and everyone is smiling back? That’s what this sounds like. I can ignore the been there, done that lyrics because it’s just so effortlessly peppy and bouncy that any criticism I have slips right off. Like the perfect beach day, it goes down so smooth. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: This is so bright and shiny and joyful (even in its theoretically morose subject matter) that it’s almost begging me to hate it. And yet I love it, precisely for its complete and utter lack of complication. There’s nothing here but an excellently constructed, tightly sung hook laced into a deeply functional beat — more a tasteful coupe than the supercars that most works of pop genius drive. And at the heart of it all is Mendes, who finds a charisma and internal coherence here that his prior hits always lacked. “If I Can’t Have You” is pure pop confection, working relentlessly to make itself liked.

Reader average: [1.66] (3 votes)

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