The album cover for Softscars by Yeule

Review: Yeule – Softscars

Softscars, the latest release in Yeule’s boundlessly experimental catalogue, is the glitch princess’s very own alt – rock dreamscape.

There is a strong argument that right now, in 2023, the musical landscape has become bleak. Major labels continue to dominate the industry, sounds remain shaped by algorithms, artificial intelligence threatens to dehumanise the nature of the artist. So, when in this landscape, an artist as sonically defiant and visionary as Yeule exists, it makes you remember that there is still hope for the industry, and the future of music itself.

Nat Ćmiel: the non-binary artist, musician, self-proclaimed cyborg entity and creator of Yeule, the glitch princess, crafts a sonic world like no other. Currently signed to Nina Tune, Yeule has released a series of EPs, multimedia projects and albums, combining glitch, distortion, ambient electronica and dream-pop amongst a flurry of other genres in order to mould a unique sonic and artistic environment. Softscars, Yeule’s third record released on 22 September, is their latest and most defiant project yet within this sonic universe.

Softscars begins with X w x. After reeling you into its beauty with a fluttering piano melody, the track bites, exploding into an alternative rock inspired screamer which combines cacophonous drums and gut-wrenching wails. The track switches between these two modes in order to play with the classic loud-quiet rock structure; an immediate example of Yeule’s genius.

The first single, Sulky Baby, comes next. It can only be described as an electronic pop – rock symphony. Yeule’s playful vocal melodies dance across a wall of guitars, modulated ambient tones drift in and out, it is sprawling yet simple. Effortlessly revolutionary. Yeule’s lyrics describe a “sulky baby losing grip”, telling a tale of desire despite despair. This is followed by the title track, Softscars. Combining ambient feedback pulses with a distorted drum loop and a beautifully soft melody, the track highlights Yeule’s boundless creativity.

If Pavement had attempted to write Radiohead’s Kid A, it would sound like the next track, 4ui12. The track combines classic nineties slacker rock with warped electronica, splicing and samples. It resembles a new era of lo-fi and electronically inspired rock. This is followed by Ghosts, an acoustic ballad warped by Yeule’s trademark glitchy electronic manipulation. Tones fly through the song, struggling to cut through the mix, creating a feeling of longing and encouraging introspection. Yeule sings, “only eyes like yours can see ghosts, ghosts like me, if you hold a gun to my head, I’ll laugh instead.”

This acoustic ballad evolves into the next track, Dazies, a distorted anthem bolstered by fuzzed out guitar tones flying across the song, bass – heavy drums and intense feedback. This song uses acoustic sections to once again play with a loud-quiet structure, combining light and dark, calmness and insanity. Fish in a Pool, the next track, is a raw piano instrumental using soft ambient sampling to create a break from the previous frenzy.

Software Update once again disarms the listener, evolving from horrifically distorted electronica into a raw guitar ballad reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. As the song evolves emotionally, so does its production, with low-mixed drums and simple electronic tones building the track into a dream-like soundscape.

Next comes Inferno, a broken-hearted love song. Beginning with strings glitched by the glitch princess herself, its rising orchestral tones mix into a beautiful ambience backed by pulsating drums. This ambience continues to grow and pulsate, creating a modulating tonal dreamscape. This dreamscape breaks into the next track, Bloodbunny, combining a repeated refrain of “blood bunny, pierced tummy, soft scar, data, I love you forever, forever”, with a wondrous mix of spliced tones, synth melodies and distorted drums. Yeule creates a persona both mechanical and free, limited but also limitless.

The next track is an electronic pop-punk extravaganza. Its guitar tones are familiar yet futuristic, its melodies playful yet abrasive. Cybermeat, another stroke of Yeule’s genius.

Softscars ends with Aphex Twin Flame. A raw acoustic ballad shaped by ambient tones, it rises and falls with sustained pulses, spliced samples, and spliced vocals. Yeule sings of a longing heartbreak: “How much love have you stolen? / How do you fill my empty heart in?”

Softscars provides only a glimpse into Yeule’s endless imagination, yet it leaves the listener full of wonder. Yeule has created a constantly evolving, constantly provoking, and constantly revolutionary musical catalogue. Their infinite genre experimentation, which took the form of alternative rock through Softscars, can and will evolve, creating a landscape of new sounds with every release.

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