Described as “a broken man singing like a child,” I, Useless is a one man band from Clermont-Ferrand, France, who has released his much anticipated and thought provoking album “Twister”, which he began recording in 2017. Recorded between Clermont-Ferrand, Paris and Montluçon – by Tweed Music, Loic Bénart and I, Useless – the album’s overarching theme is centered on the death of his closest friend, and how to get on with life thereafter. Hence it is as much an ode to people lost to us, as it is a tribute to life itself. Something we have to continue affronting, even in the face of devasting loss. When writing about any I, Useless release, it’s impossible to glance over the singer’s rare, enthralling voice. Often noted for sounding androgynous, he sings in an astoundingly high register, but his voice is robust and filled with ageless personality. It’s hard to compare him to other vocalists because very few sound like him.
I, Useless sings from the very pit of this soul. His voice sometimes sounds like that of small lost child, struggling to understand both the natural and supernatural worlds, whilst at other times he is full of wide-eyed confidence and spirited adventure.
“Twister” features highly textured and atmospheric songs, meandering with many flashes of melodic brilliance. However, the heart of this album lies in I, Useless’ ability to find gorgeous melodies no matter what the setting. As he tells intriguing stories of a restless soul, searching for different landscapes and soundscapes to impress upon the individual psyche.
Through the darkened crevasses of the title track “Twister”, or the percussive plains of “Out Of This”; the upbeat trenches of “Because of You”, or the playful chimes of “Dancing Girl”, I, Useless utilizes his angelic vocals to elevate his songs from the crumpled leaves on the ground, beyond the luscious tree-tops and into the breathy stratosphere.
Song after song is part of a cathartic communication, and an introspective revelation. The wondrous melodies create a communicative link from the human heart straight to the unknown realms of the soul.
With an experienced yet quizzical mindset, submitting to the hopeful beauty of the unknown, I, Useless takes us through soundscapes that are lusciously rich and rhythmic, such as “Reverse” and “I Want You”.
And then he is capable of dropping us into understated, warm songwriting full of subtle touches and hidden depths, such as “Hikers”, “Spleen” and “I’m Yours”. I, Useless’ voice, both literal and metaphorical is soaked into the very soul of the music. There’s admirable sonic shifts and moods here, but crucially they never feel disparate.
Throughout the songs that make up the album I, Useless’ voice is watermarked into every moment. His pastel breathiness has a delirium-inducing dream-like quality, becoming a mantra that serves each bar. The evocative quality of the music is also effective, with the listener often becoming captivated by the scope of the sound.
“Twister” is a gently pulsating album with stirring moments, great songs and an even greater story. For now you can call it whatever genre you like, for in a few years’ time you will be forced to call it timeless!