Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Shygirl – Freak

Don’cha wish your Jukebox was a freak like Shygirl?


[Video]
[7.00]

Aaron Bergstrom: I warned you this would happen. The terrifying sex robots from our blank dystopian future have finally discovered the last known copy of “Freak Like Me.” The familiar industrial throb excited them for a minute, but now they’re asking if it could be faster and more ominous. Now they’re demanding that it be faster and more ominous. You should run while you still can. (It’s already too late for your dad, but honestly he seems cool with it.)
[6]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: For those who like to feel turned on and terrified at the same time, “Freak” is deliberately grotesque, hypnotic eroticism from a Londoner channeling the dystopian zeitgeist of 2020. 
[8]

Will Adams: Shygirl’s skill is the speed at which she snatches you into her world. Whether fully taking over a song that’s not even hers or elevating a standard club beat to great heights, the first second her voice appears is a signal. On “Freak,” her filtered hook sets the stage: “I’m a freak, yeah you like to hear me say it.” That’s before the track accelerates into claustrophobic electro with a “Where’s Your Head At” bassline twisted into something even more sinister. From there, it’s Shygirl’s world, full of cheeky barbs (“won’t ever meet your mum / but your daddy’s on the phone”), coy gestures (“I hear they call me shy, I can only wonder why”) and the opening hook double-timed into an alien chant. In a year full of club jams sullied post hoc with the asterisk of “clubs aren’t a thing right now,” “Freak” transcends that and proves, with the right attitude, you can be a freak anywhere.
[9]

Michael Hong: Pop music is about flirtation, dancing around sex acts without actually engaging in them. It’s suggestion and seduction, the hints of something adventurous, knowing you’ll never actually commit to the act. “Freak” skips the games and jumps into for fun. The opening is deceptive, not really an act of seduction but foreplay, quickly morphing into messy raps and dirty moans, the way sex could be if all the things you suggested in the heat of the moment became a reality. 
[7]

Alfred Soto: This is more like it: a grind with the correct balance of wink-wink and PG-13 suggestion.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: The bouncing bass bangs terrified on the glass while Shygirl watches them, unaffected. She stills past her glasses cases of drums, bass and synths, who drum insistently on the glass, but Shygirl whistles and they all freeze and begin their chores, cleaning every inch of their cases as Shygirl lies down on her chaise sofa and starts lifting her hands until the drums are completely done with their cleaning, leaving the bass and synths still scrubbing desperately. As punishment, Shygirl echoes slide down and begin erasing the bass and synths, with the drums chuckling until Shygirl punches them into dust.
[9]

Katherine St Asaph: A rap verse that whizzes like daggers, sludgy vocals that sound alternatingly like Stina Nordenstam (those first couple seconds are eerily close to “Under Your Command“) and eyerolls, an interlude of robo-panting like Donna Summer via Donna Haraway, over a track like an industrial remix of the Team Rocket hideout music screwed down and soaked in sleaze. Wish lyricists would discover avenues of freakdom beyond doing it on the bed and(!) the floor, but otherwise, how completely striking is this?
[9]

Ady Thapliyal: So do you remember these Eurodance videos with the skimpy white models that was basically a three-minute demonstration of the work of Laura Mulvey? In “Freak,” Shygirl raps like the women from “Satisfaction” would if they told us what they wanted to do with those belt sanders and 2-speed battery drills. The male gaze may have fixed visual pleasure to “woman,” but sonic pleasure has a much more complex relationship to gender. Shygirl inhabits and exploits that loophole, bringing us music from the netherworld of sex. The best song of the year, hands down (ass up).
[10]

Crystal Leww: I find most stuff by NUXXE label to be more interesting at a conceptual level than anything I’d actually sit down and listen to. It feels a little bit like homework for a club music fan. Like if I had my glasses off, I’d squint at it and it vaguely resembles the shape of a club track but putting on my lenses it’s clear that they’ve done some ~different~ things that have made the figure more of an assemblage of geometric shapes and the lines of the shape are sharper. Shygirl produced by Sega Bodega feels like a palatable combination — his productions feel like they still believe in at least the outline of convention and that can only be helped by a vocal. It is easy to imagine how the whirring and thumping of “Freak” plus the echo of Shygirl’s voice might work in a setting of dark rooms and flashing lights. Still, like most NUXXE things, it still kind of makes me vaguely nauseous while sitting down — unfortunately, too art ho for me.
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Seda Bodega’s synths indicate a play towards Kelela-like icyness, but Shygirl herself is having much more fun — she dances between the archetypes of the vocally sexual female rapper and the cool dancefloor maven with poise, never allying herself too strongly with either. It’s an academic exercise in avant-pop, but that’s to the track’s detriment as well as its benefit; it’s easier to imagine the club packed to “Freak” than it is to actually groove to it.
[6]

Austin Nguyen: “FREAK” aims for rave sex, but falls limp. Sega Bodega turns his signature thumping, abrasive production into strobe-light disorientation while Shygirl drools out her words narcotically for a production that might be drugged at the club, sure, but only seems capable of the labored pleasure from a fake orgasm (Shygirl’s interlude of aahhh’s and yeaah’s would probably be categorized as a siren song before sensual stimulation came to mind). The frenetic dissipates into a haze: You wouldn’t remember this night even if you laid off the poppers and wanted to.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Thirteen years on, the triangle set up by Camille Jones’ and Freaks’ confusingly coincidental “The Creeps” is complete (and thankfully this side only comes in one iteration). Perhaps there are more obvious adjacents, but the three are all working in similar fields. Shygirl goes deeper — her growling machine ghost recalls the kind of things the “Creeps” hits clarified for a wider audience — but so deep that her words are submerged by the track and consequently out of any potency. Try as she might, Shygirl is not quite as compelling as Camille Jones was while being that more cryptic.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Many would likely find the idea of a record along the lines of “Azealia Banks produced by SOPHIE” to be an exciting idea. I, however, am not one of those people.
[2]

Will Rivitz: Though the reign of Tri-Angle and Mssingno nearly a decade ago ended barely after it began, its aftershocks still reverberate through electronic music’s weird and poppy channels. “Freak” likely wouldn’t sound like it does without having had years to reflect on Evian Christ and Lotic melting down dark hip-hop production like acid through a chicken thigh. It’s all the better for it, a shuffling goth-club banger beefed up and disfigured by synths and vocal processing sputtering like a dying factory.
[7]

William John: When isolated, the lyrics read as though they’re an enticement, or sexual invitation, to someone or other; but “Freak” exudes menace. It’s a candid announcement of sexual prowess, and whether delivered through sludge at half speed, or during the outstandingly assured accelerated sections, the message is foreboding and clear — look, admire in awe, but do not touch.
[8]

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One Response to “Shygirl – Freak”

  1. oh my god katherine, I haven’t visited overclocked remix in over ten years. thank you for bringing back that core memory — now I have to go find all my favorites again.

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