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Shygirl: ALIAS

Real Rottweiler bitch,” claims London-born Blaine Muise, aka Shygirl, on “SLIME,” a single from her new EP, ALIAS. The canine comparison, which recalls the artwork of her first single “Want More,” also serves as an apt description of her persona: cuddly at times, vicious at others, and “Lyrically Sexxxy 24/7.” This is an artist who inspired Arca and made Zebra Katz climax – and who else can say that?

ALIAS is whatever you need it to be, at one cost: “She only wants a good time/ Nice things, long nights.” That’s part of the Shygirl experience, where the pleasure comes from the danger that bubbles underneath a deadpan exterior. Underestimate her at your peril.

The album art, with her face peeking through a waxy screen, depicts flesh itself as performative. Giving herself over to her libertine desires, Shygirl relinquishes control but makes gains in power. Even Blane Muise never quite knows where the character will take her. Putting pen to paper allows her to uncover more about her ALIAS, less an act and more pure id. “Never meant to lose my mind/ just a little bump and grind” demonstrates how latent emotions erupt to the surface in the midst of creation: “Next thing I know I’m on the floor.” In visuals for “Freak,” her 3D avatar succumbs to a pleasure chamber of primordial soup. The more she yields to these impulses, the better she understands them and how to use them.

High on these impulses, she packs as much as she can into her verses, which can spill forth stream-of-conscious style or loop around themselves like a thrill ride. “FREAK” enters a dizzying spin with its impish, pitch-shifted refrain of “Yeah I know you like to hear me say it.” Against the skittering production of “Leng,” she slams on the downbeat: “East, West, North, boys,”commanding the song to fit her tempo. Whether spiraling into itself or shooting off into a tangent, Muise’s voice never loses its magnetism.

With characters like “Bovine” or “Baddie,” that voice promises some level of danger. The same way Muise enjoys the uncertainty of where her personas might take her, her partners likewise revel in the anticipation of a threat. The titanic chorus of “Bawdy” is like a giant on the move, the towering synths its stomping feet, and the creepy way her voice goes “naughty” in “TWELVE” evokes a certain Cousin Fred.

The inclusion of the colorful Bonk or the dainty Bae lends a sort of edge guard to ALIAS’s aggressive roster. In its more ridiculous moments, it elicits snickers the same way it does gasps. Listen to those exaggerated, unromantic moans in “SLIME,” and the truly atonal bridge in “BAWDY” to see Muise trying her hand at camp. The clubbier, upbeat songs “TASTY” and “SIREN” bring Shygirl’s Eurodance club fantasy to life in the gaudiest ways, her voice dripping in effects and doing the minimum to hit those notes. During these instances, the listener lowers their guard, mistakenly thinking the threats, too, might just be an act.

It’s when she’s most underestimated that ALIAS pulls off its greatest tricks, and Shygirl gives it away in the first song: “‘Did you use me? Get in my head?’/ That’s what they’ll say.” Compared to the rest, “TWELVE” is sonically the least distinctive but lyrically the most telling. Its final verse informs you in no uncertain terms who’s running the show “Who wake you up when I’m asleep?” By the time you catch on six tracks later, you’re trapped in a siren’s song, too late to break free. But why would you when it sounds this good?

Chock full of attitude, fun and menace, Shygirl’s latest establishes a new, larger-than-life persona in addition to her trademark, detached cold-as-ice clubgirl.
80 %
Dangerous Pleasure
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