Yves Tumor – Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
On their latest record, Yves Tumor attempts to rewrite the history of the rock gods we idolise
What a long way Yves Tumor has come. Travel back to 2016 and hear the confounding experimental music they put out with the PAN record label and there seems to be no precursor to the bombastic rock star they’ve become. Delivering Safe in the Hands of Love for their Warp debut, it was the kind of fervently original music you'd expect from a bastion of forward-thinking electronic music, even if “electronic music” already seemed far too confined a signifier. Two years later on Heaven to a Tortured Mind, any expectation of the kind of music they “should” make was left smoking in a crater – is this carnal, sexy glam rock? What next?
But it’s clear now that expectation is not something Yves Tumor really cares about. Evolve and reinvent their wheel again? No, something more complex: they dig deeper into the phosphorescent persona they established to subvert the excesses of the white, heterosexual forebears of the “rock” genre, working within its confines to deconstruct it, all while resplendent with an album title that will cause havoc for every music writer’s word count.
Praise a Lord… is Yves Tumor’s most palatable music to date, and for those that have enjoyed the hurricane horror of their production previously – listen back to Noid with its blood-curdling screams and whirring sirens – the clean lines here will feel a little too neat. But with a new sense of clarity in sound comes a conceptual rigour: What if Blackness and queerness didn’t preclude a superstar from being on the posters pinned to every kid’s bedroom wall through the decades? From opener God Is a Circle, Yves Tumor draws a line from their own past in chaotic experimental sounds through rock’s signifiers of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even 00s, channeling it through their own vision and identity. It’s something they’ve honed in raucous live performances since lockdown ended, undeterred by camp or uncoolness – actually, both are integral to the success of this journey.
It helps that they’re so good at it. The songs here are awash with hooks and memorable riffs and, even if the production doesn’t feel as refreshing, it still packs a punch. The centrepiece of the record, Parody, drives home their point: 'A parody of a pop star, you behaved like a monster / Is this all just makeup? What makes you feel so important? Can you spell it out for us?' In fact, none of it is a pose. And in so being, Yves Tumor attempts to rewrite the history of the gods we idolise.
Listen to: Meteora Blues, Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood, Ebony Eye