By Kiah Easton, Columns Editor
Key tracks: “Eva”, “Pixel Affection”, “Veil of Darkness”
London-based dream-pop artist Yeule’s debut project, Serotonin II, is a product of the digital age that feels like a soft, artificial ambiance dwelling in the recesses of our increasingly digital existence.
Whispy vocals sprawl across a host of softly buzzing synthesizers and digitally recreated instruments, resulting in a vaguely classical composition that is constructed using modern techniques. The mostly gentle and beautiful tracks are drastically contrasted by an occasional digital grinding, briefly revealing the mangled, chaotic noise that is hidden throughout the album.
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“Eva” is light and sparkly as the synths slide around—fluid and unpinned like sunshine through a sliding glass door. Warm and comforting, this song is drowsy and backs up the genre, dream-pop, that Yeule is prescribed to. “Eva” shares the same feelings as gently waking up from a slightly unsettling dream. Going against the whimsical tone of the song, her lyrics are sorrowful and honest, “I see your tears well up on your face, / but I cry with you / I won’t tell you to stop cause I know how hard it is to.”
As a fully digital future approaches, aesthetics in art reflect the shift. The idea of omnipotence surrounding our descent into digital life has been touched on by many, but Yeule plays with internet buzzwords in “Pixel Affection” to create a satirical view on the influence of digital aesthetics in art: “Wasted / Wasted in a cyber dimension / Pour my heart into simulation / Digital in reciprocation / I’m staring at the screen that you live in.”
These lyrics paint a haunting picture of online relationships and how detached this connection can be. At the same time, it pokes fun at the world’s obsession with digital culture. As far as the sonics, “Pixel Affection” contains the same glossy sparkles and reverb that are overarching with some additional glitches and deteriorations that enhance the sense of digital textures.
“Veil of Darkness” feels less like an actual veil of darkness and more like what is behind the soft, gentle veil of Yeule’s production on the majority of the album.
The track starts with a classical-sounding piano ballad, but within a few measures, it deteriorates into a grinding digital soundscape that summons pictures of flaming circuit boards and exploding servers.
After a significant peek into the sonic horror, Yeule cuts the noise and sings acapella with a heavy layer of reverb. Sporadically, her voice cuts out and is interrupted by a buzzing noise, reinforcing the metaphor of the veil.
Serotonin II is gentle and effervescent at some moments but stripped back and mechanical at others. Her juxtaposition between soft and hard exists all throughout the work, whether it is ambiance interrupted by abrasive glitching or somber lyrics of broken love over instrumentals that feel like projections of meadows full of butterflies.
In the age where information is constantly at your fingertips, Yeule’s music speaks to the complexity of human-technology integration. Music as a means of expression is one way to deal with the overload of information, sorting and processing through creation.
Serotonin II displays that process gracefully.