(Ninja Tune)


Are you bored of AI art yet? More specifically, are you bored of art inspired by AI? You’d be forgiven. So much of it is hackneyed slop without any bite. It’s late-stage Black Mirror tackling late-stage capitalism, Grimes songs called things like ‘I Wanna Be Software’, and video games called things like Cyberpunk 2077. Yeule is not that. The Singaporian-born alt-pop artist uses their sad robot persona to underline the overstimulation and isolation of being terminally online. Yes, there are obvious points being made (and even a song called ‘Software Update’), but there’s an honesty and heft that sets them apart from many working in this thematic and aesthetic zone. 

It’s fitting then that Softscars, their third album, leans more into emo and shoegaze, genres which revel in pushing obvious and embarrassing emotions to the surface. “If only I could be real enough to love”, they sing on ‘Ghosts’, taking the vulnerability past levels of discomfort, right into eerie intimacy. Though we heard fragments of this sound on Glitch Princess highlight ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty’, it’s developed with confidence and power here.

Put simply, Softscars is an undeniably sharp collection of songs. That it does this while mining the depths of a well-worn, often eye-roll-inducing theme is all the more impressive. It’s full of surprising turns and textural delicacy. You’ll find yourself caught off-guard, obvious lyrics turned into poignant home truths: “You’re never alone / I’m inside your phone”.