Written by: Marc-Emile Poulin
Whether it’s for a warm sunny afternoon or for a rainy and boring day, Yoncalla from Yumi Zouma fits perfectly for any occasion, no mood required. The New Zealand band make their debut with a subtle, quiet and easy-to-listen collection of songs. Yoncalla is a mellow sphere of soft and gentle synthpop that is not the kind of music to play loud on your stereo system but instead meant to be an enjoyable musical ride that fills the room.
For such universal purposes, some could say that Yumi Zouma play a hazardous game. Yes, the debut album is kind of perfect in its own little way, but sticking with the album doesn’t guarantee any memorable moments at all. The entire set of songs are catchy, delicately well painted and simply good. But in these 35 minutes of pretty, grooving tunes, there isn’t really any trace of interesting sparks. Yoncalla lacks that bit of personality and could turn off many curious spectators. Instead, the album could be described as a quick and feel-good listening.
On the list of musical ingredients that the New Zealand artist proposes: cavernous ’80s bass, sweet aerial synths, a crystalline and glassy atmosphere, fragile and sensitive vocals, very compressed guitars and pretty basics drum loops. The synthetic touch of the entire album is very well built, and almost no aural imperfection comes to kill the vibe. The problem with this kind of computerized music is that it leaves no place for any organic element to come into the mix to give a little burst of feel, colour, or life. The very compact environment of this album is a neutral ride; the sound is right, but almost lifeless.
In brief, Yoncalla is a smooth and, yes indeed, good record. However, it suffers from a very digitalized makeup that blinds the listeners through a fog of cheesy synthesizers and cute little sounds. Dig a little deeper and you’ll be able to see that there’s a hole somewhere.
Yumi Zouma play Brasserie Beaubien on June 10th. $10. Tickets and information here.