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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

ALBUM REVIEW: mui zyu - nothing or something to die for

Eva Liu shows impressive artistic growth on album number 2

As mui zyu, Eva Liu doesn’t do things by half. Having created a beguiling sound on her debut album which lyrically explored her heritage and personal identity, the Hong Kong British artist addresses the world around us and her place in it on her second full-length.

Musically, Liu continues to furrow a singular path with keys and synths abounding in a gently dystopian fashion but, working with her former Dama Scout bandmate, Luciano Rossi, on nothing or something to die for, the album is packaged in a more satisfactory way than her debut. Songs segue into the next track at points and there are short musical passages which tie the album and its themes together neatly.

The 15 tracks offer a rich tapestry of understated electronic music, searching lyrics and soft, dreamlike vocals, which call to mind a more cerebral version of Billie Eilish. 

The most show-stopping track is lead single, ‘everything to die for’, which is a slow, atmospheric ballad about love driven forward by acoustic guitar and lifted by its emotive keys.

Better still are ‘please be ok’ and ‘sparky’; the former featuring a killer chorus and vocals from Queens-based artist, Miss Grit, as Liu sings about hiding our true colours to appease others and the latter seeing Liu observing the search for happiness and being joined on vocals by lei, e to provide more oomph to the track.

Taking centre stage: Eva Liu, aka mui zyu (photo credit: Holly Whittaker)

‘the mould’ sees Liu advocate the embrace of who we are and where we have come from, even the less happy times, over a dreamy soundscape with electronic dissonant sounds chucked into the mix; ‘donna likes parasites’ has a psych-y flavour and is a fun uptempo song; ‘what’s the password baby bird’ is a patient track with a chorus lifted by the addition of excellent piano-playing; and ‘hopefulness, hopefulness’ provides lush violin which soars with emotion.

Closing track, ‘扮豬食老虎’, is an instrumental chamber-pop composition which feels like it should be in a sci-fi film and is one of the highlights of the album.

Some of the other songs fail to compel as well as those mentioned and, as noted in the review of last year’s debut, Liu’s vocals can verge on being aloof and unengaging but, having rightly earned plaudits with her first LP, 12 months on, Liu has taken the project up a notch.

nothing or something to die for is an inviting, thoughtful electro-pop record which demonstrates the growth in mui zyu’s sound and suggests that even better things are to come from Liu.

Rating: 8/10

nothing or something to die for is out on Friday (24 May) via Father/Daughter Records

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