Living with illness often comes with its own sets of challenges and struggles: things can change at a moment's notice, everyday routines have to become more flexible, lifestyle changes are sometimes in order as are limiting certain activities. Making compromises and accepting limitations can be difficult enough when you're an adult, but when you're a teenager wanting to do everything your peers are doing, it can be even more difficult and sometimes isolating. Which is how Jules Hale spent most of her youth.

Having been born with what was later revealed to be epilepsy, she spent her teens living with a then-undiagnosed illness that caused her to black out in class and made her sensitive to light and sound. The experience left her feeling confused, stressed, and isolated. When music eventually made its way into her life and she started Den-Mate in her bedroom in rural Virginia, it was out of necessity as much as it was out of her love of music.

Now in her mid-20s and in a better place, she traces her years of struggle with everything from battling and then recovering from uncontrolled epilepsy to drug addiction and an eating disorder, the lingering trauma caused by them, and her eventual rebirth on her new album, Loceke.

Where her debut was indebted to darkwave (musically and lyrically) and last year's Entropii EP was, as Hale puts it, "based on elemental subjects," she set out to write something more expansive and deeply personal this time around. And she doesn't hesitate to shine a light on both her past and present struggles: 'Light' for example underscores the reality of how having a medical condition or sickness often leaves you feeling like a burden to the ones you love, especially in romantic situations.

'Sick' is about self-love and the struggle not to lose sight of the future in the face of a difficult present while 'Country' is probably the most intense song in terms of subject matter, as it chronicles her experience with sexual assault and the aftermath effect of it years later while living in America, and in light of recent events here in the US, songs like this are bound to cut even deeper.

Having performed most of the instruments herself, the music is a cathartic mix of tension and release, expanding on the darkness hinted at on Entropii and pushing it into even darker and lusher spaces, but without sacrificing the obvious beauty she's capable of conjuring.

Written about a post-seizure dream in which a guardian angel appeared, 'Regine' serves as the best example of how much Hale has grown as a musician and songwriter, and it's fitting how a song that was written about a dream literally feels like one. From the moment shimmering keyboards give way to marching drums and Hale's ethereal voice, the song takes off from there and as it unfurls it gradually pulls its listener into the kind of serene space untroubled sleep offers those of us fortunate enough to experience it.

One of the most exhilarating moments though comes from the soaring pop of 'Sick' where the collision of Hale's soaring harmonies with layers of fluid and snarling guitars is capable of leaving you with goosebumps while the title-track sounds like it's literally dissolving with Hale's voice the only substance holding it together.

For some her take on dream-pop as well as trip-hop and ’90s and 00's alt-pop might not exactly come off as especially innovative, but that isn't exactly the point. Working with familiar sounds, she has crafted a sturdy and enjoyable set of songs that offer the kind of depth only hinted at in her previous releases.

Hale has said that Loceke was written during a transitional period during which she suffering from an identity crisis, but you wouldn't know from listening to it, because it's easily her most assured and confident release.