ALBUM REVIEW: yeule, Glitch Princess
yeule has become a prominent name in the alternative musical scene after the release of their debut album, Serotonin II (2019). Almost 4 years later, the London-based singer, songwriter and producer brings us their sophomore release, Glitch Princess. Before we get into it, it is a must to understand yeule's world vision. A child of the Tumblr era, they felt a strong connection towards online communities over in-real-life ones. They built their own community, where they could feel safe from the harms of real life and even themselves. Slowly, yeule began writing and producing their own songs, releasing 3 EPs and one video game soundtrack between 2014 and 2017. The artist has been heavily influenced by the "online world", which they define as a double-edged sword. It can make you feel at home, but you still are a real person living in the real world. They're trying to bring the feelings of both worlds together through their music, which they have done successfully.
Glitch Princess begins with the autobiographical intro, “My Name Is Nat Ćmiel”, a minimalist glitchy spoken word track where yeule introduces themselves, the things they like and the things they don't. Here, we are also introduced to many of the album's themes, with yeule saying they "like making up worlds", or "being a boy, [and] being a girl." “Electric” follows, with a heavenly ambient pop sound that reminds me of early tracks such as “Eva” or “Blue Butterfly”, where yeule sings about their self-destructive behavior while trying to cling to their loved one. “Eyes”, the fourth track, is a hauntingly delicate piece where yeule touches on their body dysphoria, repeating "how can I burn out of my own body?" between a high pitched piano and dark, saturated synths contrasting with their soft voice. The artist switches it up during “Don't Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty”, a dreamy indie rock ballad where yeule looks for solace from their loved one, switching between the darkest thoughts on their mind and the feeling of relief they feel when in company of the one they love.
Later on the album we find “Too Dead Inside” and “Bites on My Neck”, both produced by yeule and PC Music mastermind Danny L Harle (the second with additional production from Mura Masa). yeule unleashes a side they've hinted at before (in songs such as “Poison Arrow”), but never fully explored. yeule's cyber take on pop mixed with Harle's maximalist production create the perfect storm. “Too Dead Inside” is a beautifully crafted futuristic dance track, that hides behind their hypnotic rhythm a darker side uncovered by the lyrics, where yeule asks "where do I go when I want to see the sunrise, but I'm too dead inside?". “Bites on My Neck” will become one of yeule's signature tracks with time, with the singer building a sorrowful song with soft vocals on top of microbeats and glitches. The track builds onto a section of bright synths while yeule sings "bites on my neck, I'm still bleeding through all the bruises you left on me.” The artist turns their suffering into joy, with them using a scream as one of the main synths during the chorus break.
The last three tracks that close the LP go back to the dream-like ambient and glitch pop tracks. “I <3 U” is a letter to the one yeule loves, where they confess their darkest and deepest thoughts to their significant other, and even when they both struggle with their mental health, yeule loves them. “Friendly Machine” is full of noise-like synths and microbeats, feeling like an error appearing on a screen, or a virus taking over your device, with yeule singing about a "friendly machine around their neck" wanting to "wipe their memory clean". The album ends with Mandy, a violent and noisy track where yeule sings (and screams) in a fashion similar to stream of thought. On streaming versions of the album, yeule included “The Things They Did for Me Out Of Love”, a prologue to the record in the shape of a 4 hour and 44 minute ambient track with portions of field recordings and spoken words, co-produced by yeule and Harle. While this piece is a beautiful composition that brings the calm after the storm of the record, it is not essential to the album experience. Glitch Princess is a manifesto of yeule's identity and persona, and the expression of many unheard voices drowned in the ocean of the internet. yeule crafted a record that's intimate and unique, but at the same time, it speaks of issues common to most people online, to those who suffer from mental illness, to those who deal with their gender and sexuality. This record also encapsulates the experience of being an internet user in its many intricate sonic details: the use of microbeats, glitch sections and ambient pop synths. If Visions by Grimes influenced a whole generation of new independent artists during the last decade with its sound, we might be in front of one of the records that will define this decade's new artists.