After three albums spent rocketing between genres with abandon, it’s refreshing to hear Yves Tumor stop to smell the roses.
This isn’t to say that The Aysmptotical World EP is a lightweight musical effort from everybody’s favorite shapeshifter. If anything, the compactness of the format finds them calmly and assertively rising to the challenge of streamlining their gift for melodic fireworks without sacrificing the dense emotional whirlpool steadily churning beneath their full length works. It’s almost jarring to not hear Yves Tumor sprinting defiantly into uncharted territory, but in trading a roaring bayonet charge for a carefully-executed twist of the knife, they strike deeper into hearts and ears than ever before.
Tumor’s fatalistic impressions of romance were never far from the surface.
Whether suspended like cobwebs in the tangled guitars of “Kerosene!” or dancing like a feather through “Licking an Orchid”’s poisonous lullaby, twisted touch has held them under its spell for years. With only 18 minutes on the clock this time around — not nearly enough time to simmer that delirious feeling to perfection — they choose shock and awe right out of the gate.
Burying you immediately under an avalanche of drums and a fuzzed-out guitar riff that will sear skin straight through the toughest biker jacket leather, “Jackie” is the album’s undeniable highlight, a glam emo showstopper par excellence. Tumor fights fire with fire, groaning and writhing in a vocal performance that captures the masochistic ecstasy of burning yourself alive for intimacy. The electric bliss doesn’t let up for a second; even as they gather steam for another tantrum in the slower sections, waxing languidly about a love “torn apart right by the sleeve,” you can feel the floor continuing to drop beneath your feet. The intersection of pain and pleasure is comfortable territory for Yves Tumor. That they can still manage to make it feel so terrifyingly wild is heavenly.
As they heralded a “new century” to open their last album, Tumor paid homage to the past by winding their vision around a violently chopped vintage horn sample. Despite the mad rush to place their unique blend of genres on a “futuristic” pedestal, lyrically and musically they’ve always been haunted and inspired by the past.
The Asymptotical World makes this clearer than ever before, doubling back on soundscapes that feel sliced directly out of aughts rock and pop. Penultimate cut “…And Loyalty Is A Nuisance Child” splits the difference between whirling Autolux drums and the distant crunch of TV on the Radio’s widescreen guitars.
“Secrecy Is Incredibly Important To Them” recalls all the best metronomic dance punk rave-ups, equal parts Bloc Party and Two Door Cinema Club. Even the glorious “Jackie” and the tortured kiss off closer “Katrina” can’t escape the tiniest bit of Linkin Park spliced into their DNA as huge drums echo through frigid distortion. Tumor’s choice of vocal harmonies, particularly on goth tearjerker “Crushed Velvet,” play up these emo sensibilities to an unignorable level.
But it’s Yves Tumor’s ability to not only embody but transform these superficial genre choices that sells The Asymptotical World so beautifully. Teenage nostalgia aside, Tumor’s hooks have never sounded so clean, incisive, and confident.
Call it a pivot to pop, call it a long-awaited homecoming, but I’ve never felt more compelled to feel along with Yves than I do here. Who has time to think about Autolux when “What’s the point/Why bother” is burrowing itself into your brain and the drums are knocking just right on “Katrina”? Who’s not going to be singing along when the pitch-perfect whine of “Crushed Velvet” kicks in at their run of live shows this fall? This one is for your heart and your feet. Overthink it later.
Essential Tracks: “Jackie,” “Secrecy Is Incredibly Important to Them” and “Crushed Velvet”