Shamoon Ismail’s latest album, Scars & Screws, is a collection of mellow pop over guitar arpeggios. The album seems reflexively influenced by a hip hop scene that at least in part looks up to Shamoon’s success as a role model. This could explain why Talhah Yunus and Talha Anjum, who are now arguably bigger stars than Shamoon, still feature on this album. As a result of the influence of Yunus, Anjum and the hip hop scene broadly, this album contains less musical construction than Shamoon’s previous work. This hip hop scene worries less about melodic progression and more on lyrical delivery over catchy beats. Shamoon’s songs on this album are in this stead, simpler. The melodies are smooth and catchy, but the music behind them almost sparse.

The most interesting songs on this album for me are the ones where Shamoon collaborates with artists on the periphery of this scene, Hasan Raheem and in Promises here, with Annural Khalid. Perhaps because they are doing different things in their own music, Hasan and Annural’s presence provides a different flavor that adds melodic intrigue to this album. Promises is a warm addition to the Shamoon canon, and a cementing of Annural’s burgeoning reputation as a singer worthy of holding the big stages of desi pop.