Last year, London avant-pop / hip-hop artist Shygirl released Cleo, a single many assumed to be the first taste of her upcoming debut album. As it turns out, Cleo was a bit of a bait and switch, joining the ranks of BDE as a Shygirl standalone. Firefly, our actual first look at the album called Nymph, has just arrived.
To say that expectations for Shygirl’s debut LP are significantly high wouldn’t be out of place. Following a string of singles and two excellent EPs, including 2020’s groundbreaking Alias, Shygirl has established a space for herself in the world of pop with a distinct crossover appeal. For all accounts a rapper, Shygirl swings from smutty and simmering hip-hop to off-kilter electronica inspired by the European underground scene. Her’s is a unique and distinct sound, a melding of influences that combines high art with youth culture, heralding Shygirl as a new, sexually liberated messiah for the freaks and outcasts.
Firefly appeals to Shygirl’s explorations into early 2000’s pop and R&B motifs. Opening with a chopped and stuttering acoustic guitar and piano melody that could be a reworked Destiny’s Child sample, Firefly begins with Shygirl singing about someone who keeps wasting all her time. A half-time hip-hop beat swaggers in the background, a throbbing bassline booms. Halfway, Firefly changes courses ever so slightly, shifting into more of a 90’s UKG energy.
From an artist who’s delivered some of the horniest lyrics and grubbiest beats in pop over the past few years, Firefly is an interesting choice to usher in her debut album era. Unlike Cleo, with its camp string orchestra melodrama and 90’s deep house beat, Firefly is surprisingly breezy. Airy, light, and wistful, it’s a less in your face Shygirl, one who’s ruminating on feelings of disappointment rather than seducing someone into being their next mistake. There’s a sense of vulnerability here, a distinct change of pace from the femme-fatale energy of tracks like Siren, suggesting that with Nymph, Shygirl may just be revealing a softer side to her otherwise fierce enigma.
Watch the music video for Firefly below. Pre-order Nymph, which features production from Arca, Bloodpop, & Sega Bodega, here.