Yes, but both Loathe and Softcult have since professionally settled this dispute of plagarism between ‘Two Way Mirror’ and ‘Uzumaki’ amicably.
Uzumaki. It’s a seminal work by Japanese horror manga artist, Junji Ito, themed around the motif and imagery of spirals. It’s a multi-volume work and goes into some creepy cosmic-horror realms by the end. It’s one of my favourites of his next to The Hanging Balloons, the eerie-as-all-fuck Enigma Of Amigara Fault, Army Of One, and the absurd but also famous Gyo. It’s also the title of a new song by Canadian grunge-shoegaze band, Softcult, taken from their debut EP, ‘Year of the Rat,’ which is out April 16th.
Softcult’s latest single shares an important message following the aftermath of a traumatic experience: that 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence; that about 10 of every 100 women in North America also suffers PTSD as a result of this abuse and harassment. That the prevalence of violence towards women is still an issue that needs to be taken seriously. However, that message of addressing and calling out violence and abuse has unfortunately been completely overshadowed by the apparent plagiarism and blatant similarities between ‘Uzumaki‘ and Loathe’s ‘Two Way Mirror.’
Here are the two songs below for you to compare for yourself, starting with ‘Two Way Mirror‘:
As Loathe listeners in their fan-made Facebook group picked up when hearing Softcult’s second single as a band, the two songs are almost identical in terms of BPM and rhythm, effects, chord progressions, similar chorus and melody, structure and feel. It’s extremely on the nose. (Supposedly the music video was also similar to Loathe’s clip in the choreography, but as that’s since been privately listed, I cannot comment on that part.) Trickier still is working out whether Softcult had heard ‘Two Way Mirror‘ before writing their own track. Just looking at the stats, Loathe’s song, which was released last January, currently sits at nearly 700K views on YouTube for its video, and is the U.K. band’s top streamed song on Spotify, sitting at a cosy 2.3 million streams. Given the style of it, there’s a high chance they had heard it. Otherwise, this is one of the biggest musical coincidences I’ve heard in recent memory.
When looking at Softcult’s previous single, ‘Another Bish,’ they clearly love a lot of ’90s grunge rock, dream-pop and shoegaze music, and wish to create their own modern take on it, like literally any other recent shoegaze band has done. That’s fine! But this particular instance is a pretty egregious rip-off, whether intentional or not. Though as much as I love Loathe – ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything‘ was one of my favourite 2020 albums – they aren’t guiltless in comparisons either. Their music is HEAVILY inspired by the likes of Radiohead, Meshuggah, Northlane, and of course, Deftones. The latter of whom they pull from extensively, especially on ‘Two Way Mirror‘ and I hear clear borrowings from ‘Entombed‘ on Loathe’s 2020 LP.
If Loathe had called out Softcult themselves, they’d have then opened themselves for all of their ‘Tones aping too. Of course, it’s never been to the extent of this Softcult example, but it goes without saying that Loathe isn’t original either. They’re just the bigger band, with the larger audience, and with a tiny but vocal minority of that audience saying some quite nasty things about Softcult and singer Mercedes Arn Horn. Which isn’t okay! It’s fine to publicly point out the close similarities and compare works, saying which one you think works and which doesn’t, but that shouldn’t cross the line into outright personal attacks and abusive comments.
At the time of writing, both bands have resolved the matter, with Softcult reaching out to Loathe and pulling their music video for ‘Uzumaki‘ due to the response. (Which is a bit of a shame, as Softcult’s track isn’t even that bad!) I’m genuinely glad it could come to a professional, amicable resolution, and that it wasn’t dragged out further, though I still think the duo knew what they were doing with this song. Anyway, great, now we can all move on with our lives!