Yumi Zouma: Present Tense (Polyvinyl) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Yumi Zouma

Present Tense

Polyvinyl

Mar 30, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Present Tense, New Zealand quartet Yumi Zouma’s fourth album, strives for an evolution rather than a revolution in terms of their overall sound. The band—who comprise of Josh Burgess (vocals, guitar), Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keys), Christie Simpson (vocals, keys), and Olivia Campion (drums)—embrace a more gradual step forward rather than take a huge sonic leap. After all, they aren’t exactly renowned for their wild feral rock ‘n’ roll, so the shift is subtle rather than seismic.

In spite of this, the band sounds energized, and it’s difficult to listen to this album without thinking, “well, that was all rather lovely.” A common problem with wall-to-wall loveliness is it could start to sound somewhat vanilla. Thankfully Yumi Zouma avoid such pitfalls through the sheer quality of their songwriting.

After releasing their previous album, Truth or Consequences, on the same day a global pandemic was declared, resulting in them having to cancel their American tour, the band dispersed to their various homes across the globe in London , New York, and New Zealand. Due to their geographical logistics, the band have always been well versed in recording remotely, and so with no idea when the pandemic would subside, they resolved to work on a new album. This resulted in them spending far more time on Present Tense than had been given over to previous albums. “We used to run on adrenaline, and if a song wasn’t working we’d just nip it in the bud and move on. This process gave us the opportunity to really sit with songs and rethink them until they felt like they belonged in the collection,” Josh Burgess explained in the press notes. And it shows, Present Tense is a meticulously crafted collection of songs; a bittersweet, evocative album that passes before you like a wistful pastel dream. Every note, every beat, every inflexion is perfectly judged and placed with a deft sense of purpose.

The band are known for their understated melodic dream pop and Present Tense generally eddies along at a stately nuanced pace. However, when they do up the pace—on tracks such as “In the Eyes of Our Love,” which has an undercurrent of Tango In the Night-era Fleetwood Mac, the hook-laden “Where the Light Used to Lay,” and the reflective “Of Me and You”—Simpson’s smooth-as-caramel vocals are allowed to shine and the results are rarely anything less than dazzling. The slower tunes, such as the darkly beautiful album closer “Astral Projection,” work just as well—at times the melodies are almost too perfect. Present Tense is a shimmering collection of songs that lead you through an immersive musical maze via a wide range of emotions, and is certainly an album to lose yourself in. (www.yumizouma.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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