mui zyu – nothing or something to die for

In a quiet room with a good set of headphones, you'll get lost in nothing or something to die for's dreamlike soundscape

Album Review by Chris Sneddon | 20 May 2024
  • mui zyu – nothing or something to die for
Album title: nothing or something to die for
Artist: mui zyu
Label: Father/Daughter Records
Release date: 24 May

nothing or something to die for is the second solo album from mui zyu, aka Eva Liu, the Hong Kong British singer for UK trio Dama Scout. It's been about a year since Liu dropped her debut record, Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century: a hazy combination of bedroom pop, electro-indie, and trip-hop – so, is this new album more of the same, or something else entirely?

In fairness, Rotten Bun... is a wonderful record and nothing else or something to die for is definitely familiar territory – but it’s immediately apparent that mui zyu has taken every awkward beat, moody melody, and breathy vocal, and honed it to perfection here. Think Portishead, Crystal Castles and Burial meets Tunng, girl in red and Frances Forever, orchestrated by Angelo Badalamenti and directed by David Lynch. As odd as that seems, the album sounds gorgeous: lush, modern and dramatic, but with a gloomy heart full of nostalgia for crushed beats, warbling tape and worn-out speakers.

The album gets going just as satan marriage hands the baton of a beat (through a curtain of strings) over to the mould, a bubbling mixture of child-like electronics, cold synths and whispered vocals. It’s playful and melancholic – attributes this album lives and breathes. The next song, everything to die for, leans heavily into the latter, welling up with layers of aching vocals, creaking guitars, and cold, spectral synths. This sense of devastating beauty permeates the record, but while mui zyu plays with the ideas of hope and hopelessness, the needle never falls too far on the side of sorrow: raising spirits with a driving bedroom pop beat here, a cathartic piano theme there, or a ballooning electric guitar solo out of nowhere.

Typically the album’s tempo is of the laid-back variety (especially on haunting songs like sparky), but easily holds the attention with the immediacy of its melodies, beats and harmonies. These moments are memorable too, and the album just begs to be revisited, with each repeated listen a chance to revel in its eccentricities: deliberate flat notes (in otherwise silky pop earworms), quirky muzak interludes, shimmering guitars, screeching violins, and warped vocals.

nothing or something to die for is a jaw-droppingly beautiful, immersive experience where each track melts into the next, and in a quiet room with a decent set of headphones, you’ll get lost in its dreamy, bittersweet soundscape.

Listen to: the mould, everything to die for, donna like parasites