TIDAL Rising Artist of the Week: Yumi Zouma
This week’s TIDAL Rising Artist of the week is New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma, whose new record, Willowbank, is out this Friday (October 6) on Cascine. Their harmonious dream-pop evokes a familiar, intimate feeling that is best appreciated with repeat listens.
Yumi Zouma is undoubtedly a band of the Internet age. The project came together on the Web, with members in Christchurch, Paris and New York sharing files across the ocean. With their first release, 2014′s EP, the quartet accumulated buzz and acclaim from respected blogs like Hype Machine and Gorilla vs. Bear. While the word of mouth and posts spread, the group had yet to hold a practice to iron out the songs that caught the ear of so many, even though their debut gigs ended up being pretty impressive. They opened for Nick Murphy (f.k.a. Chet Faker) and Lorde.
Riding the momentum of their critical praise, the group recorded EP II and their lush full-length debut, Yoncalla, while on tour. Immediately, the group’s blend of emotionally complex lyrics and accessible, top-40-ready melodies resonated with a passionate fan base. Lead singer Christie Simpson’s nimble vocals are supported by the dulcet stylings of Charlie Ryder, Joshua Burgess and Sam Perry (who share guitar, bass and keyboard responsibilities).
Their unabashed pop approach entices the listener to instinctively latch on to the melody, later catching the humanity of the song’s content. One of their more endearing qualities is the worldliness of their sound. There are noticeable sonic roots in the retro-futurism of French and Swedish pop. “Haji Alwali” would not be entirely out of place in a French clothing store, New Zealand beach or Swedish coffee shop.
Willowbank is the first time the group was able to record together, at home in New Zealand. It represents a crucial expansion in the band’s depth and output of sophisticated pop. Where they recorded in Christchurch still bears the damage from a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2011. The group churns out their airy, pristine music from the rubble of overturned and mangled earth.
The result is more robust than the first album, in part because the band has finally come together to record as one. Now united, there’s no telling how far their success can extend.
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