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Review: Yves Tumor shows the beauty in contradictions with new album

Photo courtesy Warp

By Imogen Brown     3/28/23 9:55pm

Rating: ★★★★½

“Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds),” is Yves Tumor’s most agitated album to date. Released on March 17, “Praise A Lord'' offers a flood of dirty chords and characteristically brilliant lyrics. “Lovely sewer, tragedy free / In love with the frenzy,” Tumor writes at the album’s outset. Their elusive image and haunting, glamor-punk style create an air of enigmatic mysticality that leaves their creations up for interpretation. Both devoid of soul and absolutely overflowing with it, “Praise A Lord” is Yves Tumor’s ineffable masterpiece.

“God Is A Circle” kicks off the album with a grimy scream and feverish panting. Over a jagged bassline, Tumor confesses that “there’s places in my mind that I can’t go / there’s people in my life that I don’t know.” Loaded with a sense of apprehensive alienation, “God Is A Circle” masterfully sets the stage for the rest of the album’s innovative musical monstrosities. “Lovely Sewer” follows up with a humming melody and grooving rhythm, while “Meteora Blues” echoes the searing desire of their 2020 record, “Heaven To A Tortured Mind.” Tumor can wail like there’s an electric guitar in their throat: at the climax of a song, their rasp wreaks controlled vocal havoc. More often than not, however, they opt for a dispassionate rumble or a gossamer-thin croon. Individual tracks are stitched together in an intentionally jarring cacophony that at times begs for greater rhythmic diversity. “Praise A Lord'' undoubtedly needs more of Tumor’s trademark howl.

“Interlude” is a brief, tranquil hymnal that culminates in “Parody,” a standout track with eerie underwater reverberations. Rolling waves of power chords crash over the sands of the snare drum as Tumor evenly asks, “What makes you feel so important?” Any legible chronology is disrupted by the thrilling, underworld entropy of “Heaven Surrounds Us Like A Hood,” the album’s midpoint and most critically acclaimed track. “Heaven Surrounds Us” embodies the sadness, madness and disillusion that pervade Tumor’s specific brand of incomprehensible galaxy-punk. “Operator” thumps into nihilistic oblivion, while “In Spite of War” invokes gratifyingly scratchy vocals and stately religious imagery. 

The second half of the album is swallowed whole by “Echolalia.” Initially released as a single, “Echolalia” emerges as a deftly crafted, bewitching dance party of desire. Potent, polished and possessive, “Echolalia” is Tumor’s urgent, lustful answer to the heartfelt, angsty love of “Meteora Blues.” Concluding the record, “Purified By the Fire” and “Ebony Eye” pound dissonantly and unsteadily like the flickering and faltering of flames. 

Yves Tumor has always pushed the boundaries of whatever genre critics have tried (and failed) to ascribe to them. Contrary to their outward image of alternative chaos, “Praise A Lord” is skillfully disciplined down to the last note. Gone are the yearning cries of “Heaven To A Tortured Mind.” Yves Tumor’s latest album unleashes a driving, mechanical power that has listeners falling in love with its frenzy.  ★★★★

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