Review: Shawn Mendes – Handwritten


An album created for the sole purpose of filling the gap in the tweenage market Justin Bieber has vacated.

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In 2013, Shawn Mendes was discovered on Vine, recording six-second snippets of popular songs that accumulated millions of views. Through these clips, Mendes caught the eyes of industry bigwigs, who saw the chance to fill the gap vacated by Justin Bieber (now he’s getting arrested instead of screeching ‘Baby’), and was signed to Island Records, and now a couple of years on, Mendes’ has released his debut record Handwritten.

Mendes is the latest act to be shoehorned into the tween pop star mould: inoffensive, sickly sweet and with a half decent voice, his whole image has been created with the sole intent of being plastered across tweenage girls rooms. The record itself is innocuous, with a handful of catchy songs (‘Something Big’ is like a Disneyfied Ed Sheeran song and ‘A Little Too Much’ will undoubtedly be picked up to be on the soundtrack for a RomCom this summer), but for the most part, it’s dull. Each track blurs into the next, there’s no standout single, and I honestly couldn’t remember any of the songs ten minutes after listening to it.

Lead single ‘Life of the Party’ soared to number one in the iTunes chart in Mendes’ native Canada, and with a song title like that you’d expect something upbeat and full of catchy hooks. Instead it’s a down tempo pop ballad, with bland melodic changes and cliched lyrics, which sounds like most of the other songs on the album. However dreary the songs, Handwritten does have incredible production and instrumental writing and going for it. A team of sound engineers have done a fabulous job at trying to inject some life into something which resembles an album of glorified elevator music, yet despite their best efforts, it still falls short.

It’s a shame, as I suspect Mendes may actually be able to sing, and there’s a real potential behind some of the songs, but he’s been sprinkled with Hannah Montana and polished with High School Musical, until Handwritten emerged as nothing more than a dreary, sugary pop album.

Handwritten is out now via Island Records.


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Snack queen and entertainment journalist. Records Editor 2014-2015 & News Editor 2013-2014 for The Edge.

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