Running beside the lead vocal rather than beneath it, the beat accompanying YellaCatt in her new single “Drums of Fate” is perhaps even more evocative than the lyrics the song contains (which is certainly no small statement to make in this instance). The percussive force in this mix is gentle yet consistently present, creating some juxtaposition with the mood of the verses as they’re contextualized by YellaCatt’s delicate singing. Forging a complex piece of material without stumbling into dangerously overcomplicated territories can be difficult, to say the least, but in “Drums of Fate,” this rising indie star shows us that she has the sort of chops required to pull off such a feat – and in circumstances even more challenging than they had to be.
The counterbalance in this single exists between a minimalistic arrangement of instruments and a lush vocal that wants to spill into just about every corner of the track, ultimately influencing the melodic depth of every facet of this song. Through her fragile vocal harmonies, YellaCatt is able to produce a sense of uncertainty that conflicts with the cosmopolitan, almost arrogant feel of the synthetic pop melody forming behind her. The oomph in her voice becomes unmistakable by the midway point in “Drums of Fate” even through the virginal hue the aforementioned harmonies yield, and aesthetical opposites are somehow united via nothing more than the passion in her singing. Sometimes less is more, and with a talent like this, who would want for any additional fluff?
It might be interesting to hear a straight club remix of “Drums of Fate” simply to get a better look at the flexibility of YellaCatt’s composing style, and my gut tells me it would be just as satisfying a listen as this version of the song is. Any element of detachedness in the vocal here feels more provocative than plasticized, much as the defiant edge of the beat inspires more intrigue than discord, which leads me to believe that the raw materials in this mix could be rearranged to suit just about any audience depending on the demand. Ignorant critics would say this indicates a lack of organic identity, but from where I sit, it makes this player a powerful maverick in an underground circuit rife with too many sonic specialists and outright theme artists.
“Drums of Fate” could easily be the piece to put YellaCatt over the top in 2021, and considering just how arid some of the similar pop content I’ve been hearing lately has been, a fluid yet calculated jam like this one could be just the thing listeners need to get excited about her brand of songcraft. The demand for smart pop music has never been higher, and although the competition emerging from the American underground has been significantly stronger in 2021 than it was in the five years prior, YellaCatt gives her sound a charismatic touch that leaves me wondering just how long the insular indie scene she’s in will be able to contain a talent as potent as hers is. That can’t be said for every artist I hear as a critic, and it’s something more people are starting to notice about this player.
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