Wonderlick Recording Co. / Sony Music Ent. Australia · July 13, 2018
Australian singer-songwriter Amy Shark explained that the title of her debut album, Love Monster, needed to be bold and encapsulate many themes, including love, heartbreak, and different stages of life. This album is a very vulnerable display of Shark’s emotions and goes through the different stages of love, from the feelings associated with a crush to hard breakups to moving on. Shark does a great job moving through the different themes and balancing the energies associated with each.
Shark does a great job lyrically on this album, as each song deals with a relatable unique experience. While many songs on the album can be seen as love songs, it’s the other songs that really sell this album. The track ‘I Said Hi’ comes from Shark’s experience of let downs by executives and negative opinions from those who told her to give up, making for a perfect example of giving the finger to those who didn’t believe in you. “I said hi” was a phrase she began using as a passive aggressive way to address people who didn’t give her the respect she deserved. This song is descriptive enough for everyone to understand the message, but also lets the listener fill in with their own struggles and relate to the song. I can almost feel the anxiety swelling when Shark says ‘And I lay half awake, thinking what’s it’s gonna take/ For my moment to arrive, so sick and paralyzed’ and ‘Lying on my side, watching time fly by/ And I bet the whole world thought that I would give up today’.
While very lyrically different, the electronic sampling and pop formula Shark uses causes the songs to blend together and leaves few examples of instrumental or melodic diversity. One would expect to hear a wide range of differences between each song on a fourteen-track album, but with the same canned synth rhythms over and over again, listening to it in full from start to finish became boring. The one song that breaks away from this cycle is the Jack Antonoff-produced ‘All Loved Up,’ but even that has its own issues. Shark commented in an interview that Antonoff pushed her to sing in a falsetto during the chorus, but the problem with that ended up being that there wasn’t enough of a blend between the chorus and the verses. While Shark might fall into an alto singing range, she most certainly should not be coming across one-note for a majority of this song. The chorus sounds hollow, and her voice is too breathy with nothing to support it. It would have been more effective in showing this change if it had been mixed with a lower harmony or Shark had showed more musicality throughout the rest of the song.
Another problematic song is ‘Psycho,’ featuring Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. I find this song confusing because I see these two artists trying to merge together, but not quite hitting the mark. Their voices don’t blend together well, as Hoppus is overpowering and Shark just fades whenever they come together. His voice is arguably too distinct for a song like this, and I don’t think it accurately portrays his ability.
Overall, I like certain songs on the album, but not the album as a whole. The singles were great representations of Shark’s musical abilities; ‘Adore,’ for instance, is the song that started it all for her and still carries itself well despite being four years old. But for this album, it’s not necessary to listen to the whole thing. Pick out a few of the enjoyable songs and forget about the rest. I would recommend ‘All Loved Up,’ ‘I Said Hi,’ ‘The Idiot,’ and ‘The Slow Song.’ These songs show Shark’s powerful talent and are the strongest on the album.