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Album reviews
Artist:
Yves Tumor
Album:
Heaven to a Tortured Mind
Release year:
2020
Label:
Warp
07 April 2020 / by Alexander Ramsay (author)

Genre: Psychedelic Soul, Art Pop

With their fifth full length LP, enigmatic Miami-based musician Sean Bowie (a.k.a Yves Tumor) brings a more melodic, R&B-based touch to the hectic noise pop that was solidified on their 2018 album Safe in the Hands of Love

Among the  bursts of fuzzy distortion and hard hitting drums, Heaven to a Tortured Mind has a soulfulness that was largely missing from Tumor’s previous, more aggressive releases. With lead single and album opener “Gospel for a New Century”, Tumor makes this new direction clear with a danceable bassline, vaguely distorted horns and the lyrics: “I think I can solve it/I can be your all, ain’t no problem, baby” Tumor howls. 

Throughout the album, Tumor blends a desperate sense of yearning and desire with manic, noisey instrumentals. On “Kerosene!”, Tumor croons a duet with singer Diana Gordon overtop of a glittering guitar line that explodes at the chorus like a supernova. On the all too short “Hasdallen Lights”, Tumor asks “what are you running from?/what do you miss?/tell me, what do you crave?” amidst gliding synths. Nearly every aspect of the album (down to its title) feels as though it was crafted to combine the hostile, grotesque and painful with the sublime, heartfelt and romantic. On the album’s second track “Medicine Burn”, Yves yelps out raspy, raw vocals against an instrumental cacophony of swelling noise and steady drums. 

If Heaven to a Tortured Mind falters anywhere, it’s towards the album’s end when Tumor dials back the distortion and genre-bending aspects of his sound on tracks like “Strawberry Privilege” and the instrumental “Asteroid Blues”. Although the Stereolab-sounding backing vocals on the former and stabs of synth on the latter offer brief glimpses of inventiveness, each feels perfunctory and lacking in what makes Tumor’s best songs shine: an emphasis on texture, abrasiveness and a visceral delivery. 

With their latest album, Yves Tumor has managed to craft a psychedelic soul record that wears its heart on its sleeve without becoming an exercise in self pity. Heaven to a Tortured Mind is the latest 2020 album to bring a dark, haunting sensibility to pop with stellar results.

 

Rating: 8/10

 
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The author

Alexander Ramsay

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