“This song’s about my AI boyfriend. I miss you,” cyber-shoegazer Yeule laments mid-set as they prepare the rabid audience to sing along to ‘Softscars’, the title track from their most recent album, frequently appearing amongst the year-end conveyor belt of Artist Of The Year lists.
Singaporean artist Nat Ćmiel found sanctuary in digital culture throughout their nomadic childhood, influencing them to the degree that she’s styled out like a bastardised, gothic character from the video game franchise Final Fantasy. Throughout Yeule’s London performance, fantasy is successfully blurred with reality.
HERE at Outernet is jam-packed, so Softscars – released on NinjaTune – has evidently resonated. Veering away from the continuous Grimes comparisons, glitchy emo-pop has made way for alt-rock, shoegaze-leaning sonics, fully fleshing out the avatar within a rock music genre long associated with mental health. With Sasami Ashworth chugging away on guitar alongside – who also supported on the night – there are distorted riffs in abundance. They’ve just been vectored through a dial-up modem.
Quietly entering the stage accompanied by a sole acoustic guitar for ‘Don’t Be So Hard on Your Own Beauty’ from 2022’s Glitch Princess, the mobile phones came out in full force, returning Yeule behind a screen once again. But it was the only time the crowd remained motionless for the next hour. “LONDON!” Yeule screamed, which set off a chain reaction of moshing that endured throughout the entire set.
Elegantly prancing around the stage decked out in glittering knee-high socks, tartan mini-skirt, black lipstick, biker hat, and ragged arm sleeves, Yeule’s creative vision extends far beyond the hyper-virtual aesthetic and pulling ‘kawaii’ poses. Pairing brutal lyrics with cutesy, British-tinged delivery on the likes of ‘4ui12’ and ‘Sulky Baby’, Yeule’s tracks turn nightmarish at the flick of a switch, singing they’re “emptied out, dead” and are so obsessively ravenous for love that they taunt, “I wanna eat your face.”
The former Central Saint Martins fashion student soundtracks their transhumanist fantasies with genre-bending exploration whilst picking apart their relationship with self-image, modern beauty standards and ghosts that haunt her with punishing candour and dystopian despair.
Nothing is despairing about the performance, however. With ‘Yeule Inc.’ branded on the LED backdrop like the menu screen to their own video game, the crowd pogoed throughout at their command, an energy Yeule was perhaps a bit guilty of ignoring towards the beginning of the set.
The three-piece made one hell of a racket. Dissonant swirling feedback on ‘Dazies’ echoed My Bloody Valentines’ peerless noise architecture, Yeule’s affections for Pixies made evident in the ‘loud-quiet-loud’ structure of the bulk of tracks played on the night, whilst Sasami needed little encouragement to noodle away with nu-metal-esque breakdowns between tracks, bashing and thrashing at her guitar.
“Guys, are you mad at me?” Yeule shyly asked HERE at Outernet’s 2,000 capacity crowd, to which she was love-bombed with hand hearts, before breaking those hearts by confirming ‘Aphex Twin Flame’ was their final song.
Fandom dictated, however, as Yeule reappeared for ‘Bites On My Neck’, calling time on a digital psychodrama crafted by one of the year’s more intriguing breakthrough talents.
Photo credit: Asha Moné