May 23, 2022

Maybe you’ve heard one thing about an impending vibe shift? For Yumi Zouma, the premise presents an existential menace. For the higher a part of a decade, the geographically stratified, Christchurch-founded indie-pop band has been honing in on a really particular aesthetic, one centered on wistful vocals, chilled-out beats, and pale guitars and keys. Their music is emblematic of many 2010s tendencies however in one other sense is timeless: dreamy, wispy Balearic pop, lighter than air but heavy with feeling. It’s the fizz effervescent in your seltzer, the mist hanging over the ocean, the longing ache lingering on the edges of reminiscence. It’s, within the parlance of their formative period, a giant temper.

Current Tense is their fourth album and their second for Polyvinyl after serving to to outline the ethos of former label dwelling Cascine. It features as a type of mulligan for the band after their prior LP, 2020’s Reality Or Penalties, was launched on the identical day the World Well being Group declared COVID-19 a pandemic, slicing brief their first full-blown North American tour after just one present. A world caught at dwelling won’t look like a lot of a deterrent for a gaggle whose members are unfold throughout 4 cities in three continents, whose music has at all times appealed to introverts and thrived throughout the realm of boutique music blogs. However this new album suggests Yumi Zouma have grander ambitions. Current Tense feels like their stab at broader recognition past the readership of Gorilla Vs. Bear, and it simply may obtain that goal. It’s the perfect factor they’ve ever launched.

For so long as Yumi Zouma have been zeroing in on their signature vibe, they’ve additionally been constructing out a extra strong sound. That technique of tinkering and refining reached an deadlock on Reality Or Consequence. It was their brightest, cleanest, most instant album thus far, and when it hit, it hit. However for all its immaculate sparkle, it lacked a sure spark. With no entire album’s value of nice songs to prop up all that attractive listless dreariness, Reality Or Consequence might begin to really feel like background music match for Brooklyn artist lofts and high-end malls alike. The end result was an album of flimsy, fleeting pleasures, simple to take pleasure in however arduous to like — the identical downside that had at all times befallen Yumi Zouma full-lengths, now transposed to gleaming hi-fi.


Current Tense is way extra partaking from the soar. Stay drumming by Olivia Campion components into each observe, lending a brand new sense of pressure and objective to the songs. The preparations are lush and brimming with heat. That’s partially due to a slew of contributions from visitor gamers: the late-breaking flash of saxophone on “Mona Lisa,” the refined staccato brass undergirding “Actually, It’s Fantastic,” the huge swell of fuzzed-out guitar and orchestral strings that carries “Razorblade” to the horizon line. “In The Eyes Of Our Love” is an all-out rock tune, sooner and harder-hitting than we’ve ever heard Yumi Zouma. Not that anybody would confuse this crew with DRI, however there’s extra depth and energy and unbound emotion of their music now, all with out compromising the sighing melancholy that has at all times outlined their music.

Though the change has been sluggish and deliberate over the course of their entire discography, the best way all the things comes into focus right here is startling, like a shift from black and white to paint. Yumi Zouma’s music has at all times been fairly, however these songs overflow with magnificence, from the gliding piano-pop orchestration of opener “Give It Hell” to the guitar-streaked minor-key disco thump of nearer “Astral Projection.” The distinction between these tracks speaks to the wide range of accents and textures the band has woven into its sound. At instances on Current Tense they resemble an extended record of artists that blur the sides between pop and indie rock — Alvvays, Phoenix, Belle And Sebastian, Haim, Moist, the xx, and so forth — however principally they sound like a extra totally realized Yumi Zouma, a band unlocking new skills and changing into a greater model of themselves.

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The elevated songcraft shines a brighter highlight on the group’s lyrics, too. Or perhaps it’s simply that Christie Simpson has developed right into a deeply expressive singer, in a position to convey nuanced character whereas infrequently elevating her voice. The fragile contact stays even on these uncommon events when her voice surges with heartbroken ardour. “However darling, you don’t ever imply what you say!” she exclaims as “Mona Lisa” spills over into its climax. On the tender R&B bridge of “If I Had The Coronary heart For Chasing,” she laments, “Not simply one other face/ Need you to say my title, babe.” Typically Simpson overtly wears her remorse, as when she and Josh Burgess stop buying and selling traces to mutually declare, “I’m nonetheless haunted by you/ You by no means mentioned, ‘I’m sorry.’” Different instances, you possibly can sense the raging storm beneath her prim, correct exterior: “It’s not a metaphor/ Need you to see how I bleed.”

It’s no coincidence that they determined to name this album Current Tense. Yumi Zouma as soon as sounded misplaced in a reminiscence, adrift on a sense. Now their music feels alive and in-the-moment, but nonetheless possessed by the identical light craving. A whole lot of artists have tried this type of evolution and misplaced themselves alongside the best way. Current Tense is proof you possibly can morph and mature with out killing your vibe.

Current Tense is out 3/18 on Polyvinyl.

Different albums of notice out this week:
• Rosalía’s MOTOMAMI
• Charli XCX’s Crash
• Sonic Youth’s plucked-from-the-archives In/Out/In
• The primary of 4 seasonal Weezer albums, Spring
• Colin Hay’s Now And The Evermore
• Scorching Water Music’s Really feel The Void
• Cypress Hill’s Again In Black
• Blanck Mass’ Ted Ok soundtrack
• Darkish Funeral’s We Are The Apocalypse
• Stabbing Westward’s Chasing Ghosts
• PLOSIVS’ self-titled LP
• Mattiel’s Georgia Gothic
• Son Home’s Perpetually On My Thoughts
• Randall King’s Shot Glass
• Brad Mehldau’s Jacob’s Latter
• Feeder’s Torpedo
• Sugar World’s Misplaced And Discovered
• Blue States’ World Contact Day
• Keith Richards’ Primary Offender (thirtieth Anniversary Version)
• Erupt’s Left To Rot EP
• Hana Vu’s Parking Lot EP

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