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Jennifer Kahn

What's so good?
By | | Total plays: 30,968

"Folktronica" is a troublesome and somewhat cringe-worthy label frequently used to describe the music of UK artist James Yuill. First of all, Yuill's music consists mainly of elements that are more acoustic/indie than traditional folk, and more house than electronica. Also... "folktronica"? That's just a ridiculous word, period.

Technicalities and crazy labels aside, Yuill creates his own blend of danceable synth beats infused with singer-songwriter soulfulness, with gorgeous results. His 2008 release, Turning Down Water for Air, was driven by layers of airy vocals, acoustic guitar and dance-ready hooks that exuded a bubbling warmth.

I was completely enamored with "This Sweet Love" -- it had the perfect mixture of tender lyrics and synthetic blips to melt my heart. "No Surprise" and "No Pins Allowed" were also in frequent rotation on my iPod.

Yuill's newest album, Movement In A Storm, released in June earlier this year, trades in some of the poppy cuteness for a heavier tone and slightly more aggressive beats. It still has that trademark Yuill shimmer though -- the song "On Your Own" glitters with light, tinkling synths that sound a little like wind chimes. I would say this and "Crying for Hollywood" -- an upbeat dance track layered with guitar -- are tied as my favorite songs of the album.

One thing that threw me about Movement In A Storm was the opening line of the first track, "Give You Away", in which Yuill sings, "Nobody knows it, but it's true / I hate myself and I hate you too." I understand that part of the point here is to mix some melancholy with something fun and danceable, but in this case the angst just seems a bit over the top.

Movement In A Storm can be thought of as a kind of mix tape -- you've got some mainly acoustic tunes, ("Foreign Shore", "Wild Goose At Night"), some mainly electronic ("Give You Away", "My Fears"), and some that are a mix of the two ("Sing Me A Song", "Ray Gun"). The title of the album works well in describing the different genres explored within -- it shifts between a thunderstorm of dance beats to a light patter of guitar strums, but all still falls under the general acoustic-electronic cloud we've come to know James Yuill for.
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