Editors' Notes Shortly after Shawn Mendes released his self-titled third album in 2018, the superstar hit a rough patch. “I was coming off the back of a couple really big songs and was just so driven by my ego,” he tells Apple Music, explaining that he’d become laser-focused on cranking out hit singles. “It’s addictive… It’s destructive. You miss out on the most beautiful part, which is the process.” Through meditation, journaling and self-care, Mendes reconnected with the joys of making music and wrote two of his most personal songs to date: the Justin Bieber collaboration “Monster” and “Song for No One”, both of which appear on his wide-eyed fourth album Wonder. The project portrays an older, more mature musician than the one we knew. On this album he’s spiritual, connected and blissed out, deep in love and lost in thought. “I’m still trying to know myself,” he says, “but that’s the beauty of it. This [album] is like an audio scrapbook. It shows the things I thought about—how fearless I was, but also how scared I was.”

Written and recorded in California and eventually Miami, where he moved in with girlfriend Camila Cabello and her family during the pandemic, the album is as much about discovering love’s little delights as it is about seeing the big picture. “Quarantine has been really hard, but something beautiful came out of it: stillness,” he says. “When my head wasn’t so consumed with what people thought and how many likes or streams I was getting, I was able to think, like, ‘What is happening in this world? How do I feel about it? And what can I do?’”

Although the album wrestles with heavy themes—the dark side of celebrity (“Monster”), loneliness (“Call My Friends”) and the urge to settle down too soon (“24 Hours”)—they’re packaged in soaring, larger-than-life pop songs that feel light, bright and confident. Mendes hasn’t retreated from fame so much as finally seized it. On the title track, which he calls “the doorway to the album”, he takes us through some of what’s been weighing on his mind—truth, masculinity, authenticity, fear—but nothing can compete with the euphoria of first love. “A lot happens when you fall in love for the first time,” he says. “It makes you want to do things for the right reasons—to make sure you’re really enjoying it. Otherwise, I’d rather watch movies with her all day.” He wrote the song on a seaside cliff in Carmel, California, while pondering big questions: “I wonder if I’m being real, if I speak my truth or filter how I feel, what it’s like to be my friends.” These things didn’t just appear, he clarifies, but were born of rigorous, earnest introspection. “It takes work and time to figure out your truth. But in these moments of stillness and clarity, I was like, ‘Oh, this is what it means to be close to yourself.’”

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