Yves Tumor’s latest realizes an androgynous vision of rock ‘n roll and continues their morphology as an artist.
It’s hard to imagine an artist reinventing themselves while so successfully achieving a unified goal and message, but this is what Yves Tumor accomplishes on each of their records. In stark contrast to the hypnotic pop sounds of 2018’s Safe in the Hands of Love, this year’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind takes traditionally male-dominated rock beats and solos in fearlessly experimental directions. They create rich soundscapes with bombastic horns and synthesizers alongside lyrics that express the deepest feelings of human desire. Take for example, “Kerosene!,” one of the album’s lead singles, on which Yves Tumor croons “I can be everything, / Tell me what you need, / I can be your baby in real life, sugar,” with Diana Gordon backing, begging for love and affection. “Romanticist” chronicles a desperate search (“I wanna keep you close, right by my side, swear you’ve got me hypnotized … I wanna dance into your hurricane, blinded by your glare again”), and also brings on Kelsey Lu as a guest vocalist, blending two voices into the track’s gorgeous wash of guitars. This lyrical passion is far from subtle, and leans into an open erotic plea for reciprocation. This is apparent not just from the music, but also the album’s accompanying cover artwork, where a tangle of two bodies shimmers in and out of existence, representative of the transient nature of relationships.
Tracks flow in and out of each other, passing seamlessly between desires; a singular voice is present throughout, tying each song to the next. In a world of single-driven releases and albums that can veer too far into the realm of sonic monotony, it’s incredibly refreshing to experience a cohesive work that nonetheless brings a variety of sounds to the table from track to track. Whether it be for quality or brevity, whatever editing choices led to this series of tracks appearing together constitute a work of art in and of itself. Clocking in around 35 minutes, Heaven to a Tortured Mind never overstays its welcome, offering something new at every turn. In a genre dominated by testosterone and misogyny, it’s wonderful to hear something so open and androgynous. And while I’ll miss this particular sound, I look forward to seeing whatever Yves Tumor has to offer when they surely reinvent themselves the next time around.
Published as part of Ledger Line | Q2 2020 Issue – Part 1.