Review: Impressive debut from SEIL LIEN shatters expectations

Cover photo for the album “Shatter” by SEIL LIEN.

SEIL LIEN’s debut album, Shatter, is the result of three years of hard work and it shows. The eight tracks feel mature and cohesive despite its experimental nature. Miranda Roberts takes us inside this new release:

SEIL LIEN (pronounced Seal lee-in) is led by Scottish artist Marie-Claire White. She was born to a Scottish mother and a Chinese father. White said she inherited a phenomenal record collection from her father and he is also the reason for the band’s name. Marie-Claire’s chinese name is “SEIL LIEN” and means ‘little lotus.’

The avant garde rock project starts off full of dissonant chimes and strings. She sings of how “Nothing Feels Like Loving You,” and continues to hunt that high on “Chase the Devil.” She sings, “Remember the needle piercing through your skin / remember how it set you free / Remember how it felt to feel, dear” in an airy falsetto. 

“Kiss Me Like I’m Somebody Else’s” heavy hitting beat made it the perfect single. White exudes confidence as she repeatedly wails, “touch my skin, pull my hair, take my hand and I won’t care” over a thundering outro. 

“A Little While More” starts with a sultry innocence but spirals toward desperation. The same sense of urgency is found on the next track, “I am Fire.” The emotion pulses to a climax in this one and your teen angst is coming with it.

Our ‘little lotus’ is back and blooming on “It’s Love That Brought You Here.” She croons, “If I could melt in your arms” with massive vocal range. She continues to melt into the themes of desire. On “Shatter” she lulls, “when you touch me my blood runs cold.” 

This album shows a woman experiencing loneliness and a strong desire to break free. Not only is this apparent in her lyrics, but in the pulsating beats backing them. Despite feeling alone and betrayed, White takes advantage of the room to breathe. She uses her new uncertain circumstances as a canvas for her recovery. The arc of desire, bitterness, and hopelessness is mirrored in a roller coaster of tempo changes. The result is genre-defying and intricate.

Shatter’s eerie mood pairs perfectly with self-isolation. SEIL LIEN launched the record live on Facebook on April 17th. This CarbFace Records release is available on CD and vinyl via Bandcamp.

Miranda Roberts is a senior studying marketing and journalism at the University of Kansas.

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