Review: Shawn Mendes’ EP Shows Both Potential and Room for Improvement

The Shawn Mendes EP © Island

Shawn Mendes • The Shawn Mendes EP • Island • US Release Date: July 29, 2014

What is it with Vine stars these days? First it was Nash Grier taking over the world and now it seems like Shawn Mendes has ‘got next.’ Shawn Mendes’ Vine fame comes from an instrument – his voice. With YouTube and Vine providing the perfect audition for major labels these days, Mendes has definitely ‘come up’ at a young age, signed with Island. That said The Shawn Mendes EP also sports the pitfalls of the teen-star.

Ultimately Mendes’ EP does exactly what one would expect – introduce the artist. What The Shawn Mendes EP is not is the second coming or a breakthrough, no matter what his fans might say. Opening song “Life of the Party” is the main attraction. The big pop opener is predictable, as is Mendes’ solid, but not earth-shattering vocal performance. While it passes the marks, “Life of the Party” isn’t nearly as fun as the title would suggest.

“Show You” isn’t quite as triumphant as “Life of the Party.” Ultimately, “Show You” has a few questionable moments, whether its Mendes’ slightly pitchy vocals in his lower register (approve of his tone by the way) or the ill-conceived quasi-rap section.  Sure, he’s a 16-year old kid (as of August 8), but the reggae-pop combination is a bit…much, or maybe just underwhelming.  “Show You” certainly has good intentions, though those intentions don’t completely come to fruition.

“One of Those Nights” is a bit more middle-of-the road compared to “Show You.” Considering the less sound facets of “Show You,” being predictable isn’t terrible. Don’t call “One of Those Nights” a classic (it’s not), but “it is what it is.” Mendes does have a set of pipes with great potential, but he also has room and time to grow.

“The Weight” concludes the EP. Like the general sentiment of the EP, Mendes has many of the pieces in place, but the puzzle hasn’t been completely assembled yet. Like the previous three songs, Mendes’ vocal nuances are a pro – the cracks give the young singer some texture about his instrument. That said, “The Weight” needs even more pizazz, aka more pronounced personality and continued vocal development to really take flight.

Nitpicking and constructive criticism issued, Shawn Mendes accomplishes exactly what one should with a debut EP. He has transferred his Vine work to the digital EP format. These days, the EP establishes the foundation prior to the full-length album. Mendes gets to check off the box there. Additionally, he has given at least a hint of where his niche is artistically – pop/rock.

With those accomplishments earned, now it is time for Mendes to make a serious leap from Vine sensation to true superstar. Luckily for him, he has plenty of time to do so.

Favorite: “Life of the Party”


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