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Getting his start by singing six-second covers on Vine, 18-year-old Shawn Mendes is still captivating his fan base with his sophomore album “Illuminate.” In 2015, Mendes broke onto the music scene with his debut album “Handwritten,” his third single “Stitches” peaking at number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Although young for his age, Mendes breaks away from the typical boy band sound and merges the singer-songwriter genre with rhythmic pop melodies. “Illuminate” opens with the track “Ruin,” a personal favorite of mine, which channels Mendes’ inner John Mayer with wavering guitars and harmonies. “Mercy” is Mendes’ all-too-literal romantic plea with a layered chorus and heavy drum beats. “Patience” channels Jason Mraz’s acoustic storytelling is the tale of a complicated relationship while an EDM-Justin Bieber-inspired “No Promises” echoes the desire for an uncomplicated one-night stand. Reminiscent of  his first pop hit “Stitches”, the catchy, drum heavy “Treat You Better” is Mendes’ crooning promise of being a better man than the current lover of his object of affection. “Honest” features an Ed Sheeran-inspired, guitar-picking riff, but Mendes fails where Sheeran succeeds in lyrical poetry. “Illuminate” produces several worthy tracks balancing Mendes’ acoustic singer-songwriter and soulful pop-rock influences, but the rest of the album falters with the wannabe groove of more mature contemporary artists.

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