I, Useless – Twister – Album Review
It’s rare for me to be quite as excited about any album coming out as I am about this one. In early October of last year, I was introduced to a handful of singles from a project known as I, Useless – four songs that were so strong, I was instantly convinced that an artist with such an incredible connection to the music being made, would go on to complete the record that was already about a year & a half into the process by the time I first got a chance to listen, and come out with stellar results. Within just four tunes…it was impressive; there’s not much else I can say other than sometimes you really just hear ‘it’ – that intangible magic that sends a bonafide shiver down your spine as you realize you’re listening to something truly remarkable, truly special. There are multiple reasons this album has taken so long to come out…well, first off, let’s be clear – 2.5 years is a more than reasonable timeframe – but from its humble beginnings as singles being released to the full record Twister, I, Useless has painstakingly put together a magnificent record that’s full of powerful emotion, stunning sound, & heartbreakingly real perspective. The album itself, is about the death of the artist’s closest friend…Twister is about the event, about the aftermath, about the rebuilding…about how to find a way to somehow carry on.
Everything I heard previously left me with no doubt that this album would be every bit as amazing as it has indeed turned out to be. I’ll refer you to the previous review to check out my full thoughts on the four tracks that made the Twister album that I’ve already written about…you can find an additional review on the music of I, Useless and the songs “Twister,” “Out Of This,” “Because Of You,” and “Hikers” by clicking right here. That being said…if this is your first time with the music of I, Useless, I do want you to get a complete understanding of what’s happening upon this record…so forgive me if I go over a few things again here in effort to describe the awesomeness that’s happening on Twister.
As much time as I’d spent listening beforehand to the earliest singles from this record, I was fairly convinced that “Hikers” was one of the best songs I’ve ever heard…and if that was the case, the title-track “Twister” was either right on par with that standard, just above it, or slightly below – of the two songs, I continually rotated between them as to which was my favorite…bottom line being, they’re both absolutely jaw-dropping tunes. Starting the album out with “Twister” was a brilliant move on the part of I, Useless – its powerfully beautiful and heavy emotional experience immediately heads straight to your soul, revealing that the music you’ll find on this record isn’t just something you listen to, it’s something you can genuinely feel invade your heart. You’ll find an insightful array of emotions on this entire record, as evidenced right away by the up-tempo tune to follow, “Out Of This” – but notice as well that the sincerity in his approach, the immaculate quality of the writing and the stunning sound, never quit. You’ll discover that I, Useless can transition perfectly between the happiest of memories & nostalgia, straight into despair & sadness, and right back out again – and the flow always feels incredibly natural. I like to believe that, much like what he’s been through on a personal level, that the record I, Useless has made here, really reflects that voyage through the ups & downs of the emotions he’s experienced along the way. Because of that intense emotional thread that runs through the material, the cohesion that exists is beyond noteworthy, it’s essential to this album…I point it all out because it’s seriously rare that an artist can write so competently in both ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ – it’s really not every day that an artist can do one just as well as the other, let alone have each and every song come out shining like these do. Every time he sings “How could I forget you?” on “Twister” still rips my heart right open, impossible to repair. Always having been prone to manic mood-swings, this first song alone is capable of reducing me to a pile of empathetic rubble and quickly surrounding myself in a self-made moat of tears…you’ve been warned. Thankfully, I think that’s where “Out Of This” serves best with its more playful electro-vibe snapping you out of the sadness just enough to get by falling into complete emotional despair, then by taking that tiny glimpse of happiness even further with “Because Of You,” we get a chance to reset our own emotions, dry a few tears, and get set to handle the rest of what might come our way. Incidentally, “Because Of You” has one of my favorite videos from I, Useless as well…highly recommend checking that out as well…but for the record, to be clear, there’s not a moment about this I wouldn’t fully recommend.
With those three strong tunes I had already heard & loved opening Twister, I knew that I, Useless was going to be on extremely solid ground…they all make an extraordinary impression and impact. I would suppose that the childlike vocal approach in I, Useless might get more of a mixed reaction when it comes to the masses out there…but for individuals like myself that connect with it, believe me, you’ll want to absorb every bit of this record. I think it’s brilliantly unique, impressively innocent, and sonically, the vocals really have an amazing texture & tone to them that is truly unlike any other project you’ll hear. That’s the ‘it’ factor I was talking about earlier on in this review…no one out there is doing what I, Useless is doing right now…style-wise, perhaps a few comparisons, but when it comes down to execution and the final results, this music is really in a category all its own. “Dancing Girl” instantly confirmed the assumption that this project had much more in the tank to provide us with – the first new song in the set for me to experience, I marveled at just how magical I, Useless can make music turn out to be. Words are a fantastic tool of course – but when you can hear how special a moment can become from a simple ‘oh-oh-oh’ in a hook from just the right artist…how certain people can make every moment count with or without full-on lyrics…that’s almost always a complete nod towards those intangible qualities that an artist can possess that somehow elevates them above the rest. I, Useless is stocked full of powerful moments that connect on this level…I can’t even guarantee that when there ARE words that you’ll always catch each and every one of them – they’re all threaded perfectly into the mix to add a layer of mystique & mystery along with the stunning emotions they present along the way. “Dancing Girl” is a gorgeous, epic-sounding melody, tightly contained within just over two-minutes; if the magic you can hear I, Useless make in such a short timeframe doesn’t literally blow your mind and open your heart…then I really don’t know what else you could be looking for in a musical experience. The twinkling sound of “Dancing Girl” is like a music-box come to life…the melody & hooks are fantastic…& things continue to remain sparklingly stunning and seriously impressive as Twister plays on.
The balance in “Reverse” is impeccable. Hard to tell if it would be the hooks in the music or the hooks in the vocals that people would remember most when they both stand-out this powerfully. Personally, I can’t get enough of the way this dude has chosen to sing these songs…I think it is so endearing, so charming, such an utterly perfect fit every single time that it leaves me speechless, despite how much I tend to write down. It’s so rare to hear a truly unique style on the microphone…artists can alter their natural sound all they want to – and some even do break significant ground in that respect; but when you hear the organic instincts of a brilliantly innovative artist who can really commit to the ideas, emotions, themes, and tones of the melody surrounding them…you get something beyond special…you get something absolutely unforgettable – you get something like I, Useless. I definitely know what you’ll notice first…because you just can’t miss how instantly smooth and inviting the music of “Reverse” really is. From the sparkling lead-guitars to the insatiable rhythm & melody in the rumble of the bass-lines, I, Useless is making real time for the instrumentation and sound of the music to have its moment and share the spotlight with the vocals on this cut. Almost heading into territory you’d find in like, the Stereophonics or in the more melodic tunes from the Feeder catalog – again, it’s the vocals that’ll end up being the identifiable factor that separates I, Useless from anything else you’ve experienced. To me, “Reverse” is pretty much one gigantic hook formed out of many; every second of this song that ticks by is worth repeating over & over…and as far as universal appeal goes, probably one of the strongest songs that you’ll find on this record. I know why a song like “Twister” or “Hikers” is going to appeal to me on a personal level – but I also understand how “Reverse” is the kind of jam every person out there will dig.
Speaking of “Hikers” – here it is…nestled into the beginning of the second-half of Twister. I still don’t have enough words to describe just how much I love this song…and again, I highly recommend reading the past review on I, Useless by clicking here to get the full-scope of my love for this tune. Suffice it to say, absolutely everything is going right on “Hikers” – the music is extraordinary from the creativity in the composition to the unbelievable emotions it evokes upon listening. Nearly a full year since I’ve first heard it, just like the first three tunes on this record, it all completely holds up over time and sounds just as beautiful, fresh, and breathtaking as it did back then. Like I mentioned at the beginning, “Hikers” was probably my favorite of the initial set of singles I reviewed…and even here surrounded by an entire album’s worth of mind-blowingly strong material, it still stands out for its immaculate perfection.
Following the incredible single “Hikers” would have been a challenge for almost any artist out there except this one – I mean that. It is such a good song that it COULD BE capable of hurting whatever song might come after it – that’s how amazing it seriously is. When I saw that “Hikers” was the sixth track on this record, I kind of like, out of pure instincts, immediately questioned HOW and WHAT anyone could possibly follow that up with, without it just being a filler track…and then I remembered just as quickly – this is I, Useless. There’s no reason to doubt the instincts of this artist or the amazing ability he has to write song after song that will attach itself right to your heartstrings like it’s part of your own genetic DNA. Hearing “Here The Story Ends” for the first time was again, a complete confirmation of the strength in the writing, performance, and execution; coming after “Hikers” was no easy task – and I wanted to listen to “Here The Story Ends” every bit as much as the rest of this record without question. Loved the piano melody, the vocals are a perfect fit & full of grace, beauty, and that essential childlike wonder that has accompanied the vibe throughout the perspective and approach to this whole album. Really expanding the sound in the chorus of “Here The Story Ends,” instrumentation like the violins and drums standout along the journey, and in the incredible breakdown heading into the second minute, the subtle presence in the guitars and twinkling of what I’m guessing is either keys or xylophone notes all combines to create a highlight moment before I, Useless surges back into the hooks to exit this tune.
“I Want You” kind of has a familiar and comforting vibe to it…somewhat of a similar experience to listening to “Because Of You” – and that’s more than okay with me. Still completely different enough from each other, yet more of a great thing…I’d suspect I’m not alone in loving a situation such as this. A perfect example of what I was talking about earlier on in commenting about the ability to write ‘happy’ just as well as ‘sad’ – “I Want You” is gorgeously sweet and the entire vibe is uplifting. If you were to look at the ingredients of this song on paper, I’m convinced that you or anyone you know would say ‘WHOA – hold the syrup! That’s pretty sweet there already partner’ – or something to that effect. But this too, is part of the magic at work here. What makes I, Useless continually impressive when writing with a sunnier-side approach, is that it never comes off as anything less sincere or authentic as the rest of what you’ll hear. It’s like he’s honestly documented the pure essence of our emotions and put them on a record for us to play back and realize that the things we experience in life on the inside of ourselves sound just like what we’re listening to. He proves on songs like “I Want You” that it’s just as important to take time to have some fun and celebrate life as it is to reflect on it & examine its sequence of events. In perhaps one of the funniest twists you’ll discover in the music of I, Useless, the video created for this song is straight-up off the wall awesome…and takes everything that you might assume about this song in an entirely different direction you won’t expect. Politically charged, filled with cats, and likely hinting at the love being shared between dictators in the current system…I didn’t see any of this coming and I’d suspect that neither will you – so check it out the latest I, Useless vid for yourself and see what I mean!
When you do get a real dose of clarity in the lyricism, like you do on “Spleen,” you’ll get a real appreciation for the spectacular beauty, pure innocence, & poetic style they contain. In atmospherically based settings like “Spleen” has, each word is filled with vibrant melody to balance the weighty emotional sound of the violins and gigantic drum beats combine to create. Add in the warm glow from the keyboards, low-end synth-flute sounds and clever brass section subtly into the mix, and voila – magic is made yet again on Twister. Don’t quote me on these instruments…I’m just making guesses here – but I’m 99% sure of what I’m hearing; there’s a lot added into “Spleen” to go along with the emotion & heart within the writing…it’s another really powerful, time-stopping moment on the album that teems with sweetness & melancholy combined as one in a captivating way you can’t take your ears off of. I think the verse comes out with a perfectly innocent sound and the chorus takes “Spleen” to the next-level it deserves with the bolder approach you’ll find there; but really, you can’t lose with this song no matter what aspect you’re listening to. Everything surrounding the vocals is brilliant, once again even revisiting that music-box like melody on the surface of this song, inducing that thought-provoking sound that has you pausing to reflect on your own life & really feel the emotions that come with the moment you’re locked so sweetly into – another real highlight on this album without question.
As the album heads for a more isolated & intimate ending on “I’m Yours” – there’s not a single doubt in my mind that what I’ve heard on the entire length of Twister puts I, Useless in a league of its own. It’s rare enough to find a record where there’s not a single thing out of place – it’s another thing entirely to find an artist who can shift sound in a whole new direction that you really didn’t know could exist before you’ve heard it. While the word unique has been watered-down for years through references that pale its meaning – that’s exactly what I, Useless truly is – unique…and fantastically so. The warm glow of the verses on “I’m Yours” break beautifully into a chorus that’s sweet, simple, direct, and right to the point, repeating the title like a voice you hear in your own head or heart…maybe even both if you’re lucky. I love the vibrant sound of the melody in the music and I think the subtle & controlled performance that the vocals put on display ends the album with real precision in its gentleness, allowing us to exit the record on thoughtful, dreamy, and heartfelt notes of sincerity that whisper right to the core of your soul. I love the mix of sweetened melancholy in the music and the beauty in the brightness of the vocals on “I’m Yours” – it’s completely like the dream you never want to fully wake out of playing while you’re awake. Who wouldn’t want that?
I’m STOKED that there wasn’t a single solitary moment of this record that didn’t exceed the high expectations I already had for what it might become after listening to those first singles way-back-when. Twister lived up to every hope I had for I, Useless and then some – I simply can’t say enough about this record, this artist, this entire sound…it’s unique, it’s beautiful, and it’s flawlessly executed – there’s not a thing I’d change about it and my ears are completely celebrating just how wonderfully different this experience is from so many out there. Twister is one of the real highlights in 2018 without question and absolutely worth the waiting to get to it; I already want MORE – & I’d imagine you’ll feel the same way.
There’s a mysterious time-clock on the main website right now…only about a week or so away from the time of this very posting right here – who knows what that could be! Twister is officially released on September 28th this year – until then, make sure to find out more about I, Useless & stay up to-date on the details through the official pages below!
Official Website: https://www.iuseless.fr
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