Yonlu
A Society In Which No Tear is Shed...


3.5
great

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
June 3rd, 2009 | 81 replies | 9,611 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I know what it's like to have to trade a girlfriend for a muse...

It’s unfortunate that a substantial amount of people will get into Yonlu primarily because he killed himself at the age of sixteen. If history is any indication, the buildup for his only record, A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed Is Incredibly Mediocre, will only be astronomically heightened with the infamous “posthumous” tag that turns mediocre albums into intriguing ones and great albums into legends. Still, with Yonlu (aka Vinicius Gageiro Marques), it’s practically impossible to talk about A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed without mentioning his imminent suicide. The record is drenched with a stark loneliness and melancholy that defines Marques’ work and foreshadows his fate. Toying with every style from Elliott Smith aping doubled-vocals folk to breakbeat techno, Yonlu creates an impressively diverse work with the kind of shit-to-the-wind mentality and experimental approach one would expect from a well-listened teenager. Cross that with his exceptional ability to articulate emotional turmoil and the results speak for themselves. A Society in which No Tear Is Shed Is Incredibly Mediocre is a sprawling and yet unmistakably unified collection of intensely personal songs by a gifted artist cut down before he even approached his prime.

With that set up, it would be no surprise to find Yonlu’s album to be an excessively dreary requiem, like a Joy Division record gone wacky, but here’s the thing with A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed: It’s monstrously catchy. Rarely can the adjective “boppy” be applied to a song featuring the line “Memories of old times made me who I’ll never be: me,” and yet that’s exactly how best to describe album opener “I Know What It’s Like.” Casually flipping between bossa nova verses and a swung chorus, “I Know What It’s Like” is the most easy-to-swallow of A Society’s fourteen tracks, but this in no way separates it from the brooding record that is to follow. Instead, it serves as a clean introduction to the gloomy themes Yonlu explores throughout the majority of the record.

Those themes should be pretty obvious by about track three. In case the opening lyric of ”I know what it’s like to be left out when all your friends try the new hip suicide thing,” does not make them perfectly clear, track names like “Humiliation,” “Katie Don’t Be Depressed,” and “Suicide” (hint: there’s one now!) certainly will. Most of A Society… talks about Yonlu’s depression with a kind of c’est la vie attitude, at times suggesting a disturbing amount of peace with death. Yonlu can intentionally sing a line as obvious as ”I’ll tell you why I wanna die” with unsettling dryness and pull off something as unexpectedly confused as “I’m in love with the girl I am” with a little bit of wit. Yonlu even incorporates brief flashes of humor, sticking a hip hop drumbeat into the satirically country “Boy and the Tiger” and kidding “Seriously, I know, what the fuck?” in “Katie Don’t Be Depressed.” Such quick glimpses of the coy kid in Yonlu serve to offset the general melancholy of the album, which is welcome. It makes his more introspective songs all the more striking and also gives the album some essential flavor.

While the acoustic majority of A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed will connect Yonlu to the likes of Elliott Smith and The Microphones, the album’s penchant for atmospheric interludes and nods to post rock help A Society… stand apart. For example, the minimalist acoustic drone of “Q-Tip” is the darkest point of the album, featuring Yonlu using samples to devastating effect, while “Deskjet (remix)” is a Flashbulb-esque interlude that, despite being the only “techno” track on the record, flows seamlessly with the rest of the album. This is enough to propel the A Society… through a more lackluster second half in which Yonlu explores popular 60’s Latin music (“Estrela, Estrela,” “Luona”) and an unfortunate pairing of bland music with ripe-for-parody lines about depression, death, etc (“Phrygian”). The album’s lone snag feels like a kink that is ironed out with experience and more self-discovery than one can have in eleventh grade, and probably could have been if Yonlu's career continued. It’s not enough to derail the album off a quality path, however, and the beautiful finale in store is more than enough to erase any memories of missteps.

Although the stigma this album will carry along with it as a “suicide record” is unfortunate, there’s simply no way of avoiding it. Listening to the sonic release of “Waterfall” is as sad as A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed gets, and yet the song is a cheery, wordless refrain. The entire record has that sort of creepy air to it, like an ironic finality. In “Waterfall,” Yonlu builds a vocal phrase into a hypnotic swirl for a good three minutes before giving way to a choir humming a major chord, and the sound is joyful and pleasant. It is the knowledge of what Yonlu was about to do to himself that makes the track sound as if the kid has finally given up, hitting the fifth stage of grief, creating the powerful paradox. Still, none of that irony would matter if the songs were terrible. It is Yonlu’s talent that truly makes A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed Is Incredibly Mediocre so intriguing. His album is addictive, powerful, and imperfect. So yes, the fact he killed himself gives the record a different tone, and yes it will give this album a lot of attention. Who cares? It’s not like it’s attention it doesn’t deserve.



Recent reviews by this author
The Men Tomorrow's HitsMacintosh Plus FLORAL SHOPPE
The Dismemberment Plan Uncanney ValleyJustin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience
The Men New MoonIceage You're Nothing
user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Nick Butler EMERITUS (4)
Cynics be damned: this incredible backstory has an incredible album to match....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2009



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Oh, it's streaming by the way. Listen here:

http://yonlu.com/

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

gaslightanthem
June 3rd 2009



5209 Comments


heard about this

guess i'm gonna have to get it right away

Chewie
June 3rd 2009



4531 Comments


poor guy, the whole story of him is pretty intriguing

gaslightanthem
June 3rd 2009



5209 Comments


can see him becoming a bit of a cult icon within hipster communities internetwide regardless of how good he actually is/isn't

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2009



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, I can see that too. Good thing he's pretty good then!

Youwithoutme
June 3rd 2009



301 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally someone reviews this. Album is amazing.

NortherlyNanook
June 3rd 2009



1285 Comments


Oh, it's free by the way. Listen here:

http://yonlu.com/


that site seems to want me to pay $8 for a digital copy. this is free?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2009



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

it's streaming on that site, i should have said. my bad

Knott-
Emeritus
June 3rd 2009



10195 Comments


good review adam, this hasn't clicked for me yet but in time i reckon it probably will

VicariousIntent
June 3rd 2009



1593 Comments


I just listened to I Know What It's Like. The lyrics are iffy for me, but I dig the indie pop-ish sound that coupled with it. I do believe I'll check out the whole thing.
Good review by the way. Very well written.

rasputin
June 3rd 2009



14538 Comments


yonlu boy

CompanionCube
June 3rd 2009



977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

sounds good, getting now

gaslightanthem
June 3rd 2009



5209 Comments


just over halfway through this, rly dig some of what he was trying to do but some parts are just so bleh idk

pretty great overall though considering everything

rasputin
June 3rd 2009



14538 Comments


considering he's dead

gaslightanthem
June 3rd 2009



5209 Comments


ya the whole offing himself thing

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2009



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

it's toe-tappingly tragic!

CompanionCube
June 3rd 2009



977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

as if hes this good at 16

gaslightanthem
June 3rd 2009



5209 Comments


"thinkingggg what's the point of livingggg"

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 3rd 2009



17204 Comments


the events behind this make me want to like it more than i do.

astrel
June 3rd 2009



2614 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like some songs and really dislike some songs. It is quite polarizing.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy