Yumi Zouma: Present Tense

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Yumi Zouma: Present Tense

While very few artists circumvented the vicissitudes of Covid and theconsequent lockdowns, not many were as unlucky as Yumi Zouma.

The day before the release of their Truth or Consequences album in early 2020, they were in Washington D.C. to start their first sold-out US tour.

Covid hit, their tour consisted of just that one show.

Understandably shattered, they went their separate home-bases and, after some emotional decompression, took the album’s songs and -- through available 21stcentury technology -- reconfigured them as Truth or Consequences: Alternate Versions, an even more thoughtful investigation of the one-time Christchurch band’s take on dreamy, elegant pop.

These days members of the four-piece live in New York City, London and New Zealand, but again thats no barrier to the exchange of ideas and songs. Hence this fourth album Present Tense on which they parlay their dreamy aesthetic with Christie Simpson’s melodic, light and breezy vocals drifting over poppy synths and sometimes delightfully minimal guitar lines.

The centrepiece Razorblade, coming in at less than three minutes, is a charmingly ethereal piece which seduces through understatement and cloudy warmth. Honestly, It’s Fine puts them on a similar axis as wonderful, if often overlooked, bands on Britain’s Popfrenzy label (Camera Obscura, the Clientele, Radio Dept).

Drawing on some previously discarded demos which underwent refreshing, theyroam from gently driving 80s-style radio pop on In The Eyes of Our Love (a happy marriage of the Bangles and the Sundays) to light but lyrically thoughtful pop (Where the Light Used to Lay, Of Me and You), sometimes embellished by guests on pedal steel, strings and woodwind.

Although some songs drift past without fully engaging attention, Present Tensehas the virtue of an enjoyably coherent album of bright primary colours with subtle pastel shadings.

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