The follow up to 2018’s Safe In The Hands Of Love sees Yves Tumor refine their song narrative and flow with added elements of 80’s pop rock, soul and smooth psych jazz-pop whilst still embracing their signature experimental electronic and avant-garde soundscape.
Opening track “Gospel For A New Century” is perhaps the track that not encapsulates every element of this album as a whole but also brings together every aspect of Tumor’s creative ability as a producer. With it’s glitchy synthesisers, potent brass section, punchy bass line and powerful Prince-esque vocal performance. It’s got a certain bravado about it that lets you know Tumor is in control. It sets a very high standard for the rest of the album that in some aspects doesn’t quite get lived up to.
The more experimental and electronic side of Tumor’s sound palette come out on the tracks ‘Medicine Burn’ and ‘Identity Trade’. Chaotic and raw, the spiralling guitar riffs, turbulent delay effects and demonic laughs of ‘Medicine Burn’ all paint a surreal portrait of noise that reinforces the strange and disturbing lyrics . “Severed head on the mental guillotine, Life of blasphemy, a room full of kings’ severed heads, And six hundred teeth”.
The 80’s power rock hits through hard on the tracks ‘Kerosene!’ and ‘Superstars’ with big high profile guitar solos and visceral lead vocals. ‘Kerosene!’ drips in nostalgia with its smooth bass line, powerful chorus build up and euphoric harmonies with singer Diana Gordon. Whilst ‘Superstars’ showcases a more sexy groove and feel, with its lustful vocals and stimulated guitar riff that once again feels straight off a Purple Rain era Prince album.
There are however moments on this album that do feel a bit lacklustre and at times repetitive. ‘Hasdallen Lights’ and ‘Asteroid Blues’ have some interesting musical passages within them and would work well as interlude tracks if they were tightened. However with both nearing the 2 minute mark and only throwing up occasional glitchy background stabs and vocal leads they come across as perhaps unfinished and not as defined as the rest of the album. They come and go without offering anything significant.
Contrary to the previous paragraph though the track ‘Romanticists’ offers a lot within a short time. It’s got a great beat, tastefully placed guitars and vocals and some interesting sonic texturing, showcasing Tumor’s potent production. Although this track does offer as a gateway to ‘Dream Palette’ with its seamless transition it had great potential to become a full song that sadly goes missed.
The tracks ‘Strawberry Privilege’ and ‘A Greater Love’ offer up a more psych-pop direction for the album for the final quarter. Taking influence from the likes of Connan Mockasin and Ariel pink the track ‘Strawberry Privilege’ creates this hazy soundscape of loose falsetto vocals, ambient sonic samples and a groovy bass line that floats around like a loose mist in the air. ‘A Greater Love’ however has a more jam-like loose feel that fades out as slow as it takes to build up. And after the albums heavy hitting first half it gives a soft bow out to the album that leaves more to be desired especially from the high-octane shown early on.
Whilst this album may be lacking in some comprehensive aspects, its use of sonic experimentation and expansive production lets it become Yves Tumor’s most accessible album yet and allows a more refined sound to come to the forefront.