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


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
November 15th, 2009 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cynics be damned: this incredible backstory has an incredible album to match.

Alarm bells. They ring.

The introverted, internet-fixated Yonlu (real name Vinicius Gageiro Marques) died in 2008, at the age of 16, after he poisoned himself with carbon monoxide. He stayed online the whole time, writing his suicide note and posting messages on suicide forums about what it was like to die. After his funeral, his father searched his computer and found an album's worth of songs - songs with titles like "Suicide" and lyrics like 'I know what it's like, to be left out when all your friends try the new hip suicide thing'. His father was then shocked to discover that Yonlu already had a following, built up from all the internet forums and music blogs he contributed to; so these songs have been released, using a title drawn from Yonlu's own writing, for his fans.

Is there anybody left that hasn't raised their eyebrows yet? His story can't help but feel scripted, like some big prank a record label has pulled on rock's death-obsessed fanbase. Taken at face value it's tragic and bittersweet, but there's something a little off about the whole thing. Do people who want to commit suicide really write songs about it? Did Elliott Smith ever write the lyric 'I'd stab myself in the chest for you'? Fans in 2009 might be drawn to lyrics like 'Stay with me under these waves tonight/Be free for once in your life tonight' when Jeff Buckley sings them, but it was unintentional - surely somebody making absolutely sure their songs refer to their death is just desperately seeking attention? How can you NOT be utterly cynical when presented with something like this?

So damn Yonlu for making such a great album, and damn the cynicism of the internet age for making us dismiss it offhand. A Society in Which No Tear Is Shed Is Inconceivably Mediocre really is brilliant, and it really does deserve your attention.

Yonlu's style is perhaps what you'd expect, if you were armed with the knowledge that he was 16, spend some of his childhood in Paris, and lived in one of Brazil's most cosmopolitan areas - it's informed by samba and tropicalia, and is distinctly Brazilian at times, but it's a modern, world-weary version that pulls in all sorts of other influences. If you didn't want to listen to this as a suicide album, you could still get lost in the way that Yonlu takes the kind of music you'd expect to find in his parents' record collections and welds them to the artists in his own. True to suicidal form, the first artist that springs to mind is Elliott Smith, with "I Know What It's Like" utilizing the same contrast between downcast lyrics and bright melodic snatches from Big Star and The Beatles that Smith built so many of his best songs around. But it's just the start of an array of names - Syd Barrett, Tortoise, Ennio Morricone, Merzbow, and Beck all crop up within the next track alone, "The Boy and the Tiger".

Truthfully, "The Boy and the Tiger" is probably the album's worst track - it certainly contains the album's worst single moment. After some glitchy sampling and white noise at the start, the song takes the melody from "Silent Night" and spins it out across a spaghetti Western-sized sonic landscape. It's breathtaking....until the music speeds up, disappears, and is briefly replaced by white, frat-boy hip-hop. It is, to be honest, a little bit embarrassing, but it's at least indicative of all the elements that stop this from becoming a boring wrist-slasher - Yonlu understands that there's a very fine line between the most highbrow avant-garde and the most base and silly noisemaking, he knows that it's fine to exploit the similarities between the two, and he was seemingly possessed of a childish, almost gleeful sense of humour.

Indeed, parts of A Society in Which No Tear Is Shed Is Inconceivably Mediocre are disarmingly fleet-footed, seemingly far too light to have come from the mind of somebody on the verge of self-destruction. "Q-Tip" is vaguely medieval sounding in the way some of the most highbrow prog of the '70s was, but it's also disarmingly pretty, while the short "Little Kids" is bouncy and bright, and the plaintive, folky "Estrela, Estrela" belongs on the soundtrack to a gondola ride through Venice. "Deskjet (Remix)" takes the album into lighter IDM territory as well; it sounds a little like Nosaj Thing remixing the intro of "Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos.

In truth, A Society in Which No Tear Is Shed Is Inconceivably Mediocre can be a little much to get through, its peaky, close production beating even albums like Pink Moon and For Emma, Forever Ago for intimacy at times. Tracks like "Suicide" certainly make for uneasy listening; but the effort is worth it. Vinicius Gageiro Marques was a hell of a talent, and this album would be just as worthy of celebration if its creator was alive and well.



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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Adam Downer EMERITUS (3.5)
I know what it's like to have to trade a girlfriend for a muse......


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh wow, Downer already reviewed this? Haha.

Electric City
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


15744 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

hi5



I still think this album's great, very much undeserving of a lot of the shit this website gives it. "I Know What Its Like" and "Waterfall" are truly beautiful songs and the middle is kind of hit and miss.

SeaAnemone
November 15th 2009


21300 Comments


great review... inspires me to give this another try

robin
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


4284 Comments


same. that and EC being offended

Athom
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


17240 Comments


waterfall is great, but the album can get a bit clunky at times.

Iluvatar
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


16089 Comments


i still think the album is inconsequential, but it is really interesting in most facets of its existence

Roach
November 15th 2009


2148 Comments


lol gonlu

rasputin
November 15th 2009


14669 Comments


he killed himself so his music just has to be heartfelt and full of emotion

kingsoby1
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


4968 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

listened to it once

Electric City
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


15744 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

alright jom rockin the 1

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2009


17958 Comments


downloaded this and then deleted it because who cares

joshuatree
Emeritus
November 15th 2009


3742 Comments


album really is completely awful, might give it another chance but nah probably not

good review though!

tombits
November 16th 2009


3472 Comments


^lulz. didn't like what i heard from this.

lobby
November 16th 2009


1251 Comments


I think somebody is forcing the reviewer to spruik the album after it was labeled "staff pick" and then didn't receive any praise...

shablaman54
November 16th 2009


283 Comments


never heard of this, gonna check it out today

thebhoy
Emeritus
November 16th 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this was just really average. It has good moments but a lot of bad ones.

Knott-
Emeritus
November 16th 2009


10198 Comments


still a 3.5

Electric City
Emeritus
November 16th 2009


15744 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I think somebody is forcing the reviewer to spruik the album after it was labeled "staff pick" and then didn't receive any praise...




you overestimate how much we care



AlexTM510
November 16th 2009


1419 Comments


this is really sad to listen to. simply cause the kid had so much potential

Iai
Emeritus
November 17th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i didnt know this had been reviewed and i didnt know we even still used staff picks



plus i first herd this before downer even reviewed it anyway



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