Yumi Zouma – Truth or Consequences – Review

New Zealand band Yumi Zouma, photographed by Jack Sheppard. Courtesy of Polyvinyl Records
Photo Credit: Jack Sheppard

Truth or Consequences is the third album from New Zealand dream-pop band Yumi Zouma. The ten tracks that make up this album are as delicate as they are catchy. Although their previous releases have already established Yumi Zouma as the reigning champs in this genre, Truth or Consequences cements their distinction.

The production, lyrics, and vocals all blend together so seamlessly; Yumi Zouma makes it seem so easy. Lead singer Christie Simpson’s voice is at the forefront, as always. There’s something so enchanting about her voice; it never gets tiring, it’s so soothing and welcoming. This time around, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Charlie takes up more of the backing vocal duties. Songs such as “Right Track / Wrong Man,” “Mirror to the Fire” and the excellent “Magazine Bay” feature prominent vocals from Josh Burgess. More than backing vocals, Burgess sings along with Simpson in a matter reminiscent to all those hugely popular duet acts from the 70s and 80s.

It’s hard to pick out a favorite song from the album, as they’re all just such positive listening experiences. But my favorites at the moment are “Southwark,” “Cool for a Second,” and “Magazine Bay.” “Magazine Bay” is a particular stand-out track because the usual programmed drums that are such a big part of Yumi Zouma’s repertoire are accompanied by Olivia Campion’s actual real-life drum playing. This touch of analog sound, along with the digital sound of programmed drums, really elevates the song’s overall uniqueness. This is a route they could easily explore in subsequent releases. Guitarist, bassist and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Ryder’s bass riffs are still in top form. They serve as the foundation where each track can flourish.

Initially, I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t go down the path their one-off extra-groovy single “Bruise” was apparently paving. (Although “Magazine Bay” does quench the thirst for those groovy beats). But now, after listening to Truth or Consequences in full a few times, I understand that their overall goal was to create a delicately cohesive album that flows from one track to the next with the relative ease of a flower blooming in the early morning light.

While the New Zealand four-piece’s previous two LPs, 2016’s Yoncalla and 2017’s Willowbank, sounded like modern takes on 80s tropes, many songs in Truth or Consequences is more reminiscent to a set of long-lost singles from 1986, while still featuring that patented Yumi Zouma sound.

Yumi Zouma have always crafted songs that sound like a lovely Saturday morning in spring and the ten tracks in Truth or Consequences add to this distinction.

 

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