“Shygirl + Arca” – “unconditional” Review

An important and powerful release to take a pause and listen to this June is the new collaborative single “unconditional” by Shygirl and Arca.

Released on June 5th as a pay-what-you-can single, all proceeds earned from the track are being donated to Black Lives Matter,“a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes,” and Inquest UK, “...the only charity providing expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians.” The release comes in the wake of the uprisings, public outcry, international mourning of countless similar victims, and deeper interweaving conversations about the realities of white supremacy which has followed the murder of George Floyd – a Black man killed by U.S. police. 

The track is a departure from UK-based Shygirl’s usual signature style of assertive and unrelenting vocals laid overtop loud and bassy production from her frequent collaborator Sega Bodega. Instead, “unconditional” is filled with harrowing silences and heavy trailing echos in between mostly-unaccompanied warped and twisted vocals. Her usually cheeky and blunt attitude is replaced instead with weary heartbreak and a somber defiance. The spaces in between her words are immense, and her words themselves are haunting: “this love was meant to be/unconditional/the lie started then”. If there is a song in this moment to really take a pause to – to stop and reflect with – it is this one.

In her own words, Shygirl writes:

“I felt overwhelmed this week. Inundated with imagery and news that triggered emotions I was not immediately ready to deal with. I found myself reaching for a lifeline, a brief moment of reprieve to steady me before I inevitably returned to the news, the deep dive of personal reflection and to the protest.

Protesting reminded me that I wasn’t alone. The possibility that others might feel the way I do, even in the slightest, made me want to speak up and reach out, to provide something. I find both solace and power in music, so it’s in this that I have a resource to share. With the aim to build emotional strength and connections in this time of awakening, reflection and protest.

I wrote the lyrics to this song a while ago, originally thinking of love, family, betrayal and ultimately strength in adversity. It was only this week that I thought of this song again with everything going on. The emotion of the song still rang true but this time in a wider way, a bigger family, a deeper betrayal, a greater need for love.

It felt right to share this now and I hope it means something to you.” 




it creeps over me

inside of me

it suffocates

i guess you’re winning now


you do the worst things

in the right ways


i guess you’re winning now.



what you are

who you are

right there

right here

stood in front of me


good intentions

won’t help u

i don’t trust

you do what you do

because of me


you poison all the roots of me

till I’m only

the stem

you poison all the roots of me

you see me waving all in the breeze

and your blowing again.


this love was meant to be


the lie started then.



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