Yves Tumor: Gospel for a New Century

To call Yves Tumor enigmatic would be a criminal understatement. The incorporation of genres such as noise, alternative rock, R&B, and various elements of electronic music all meld beautifully to create a sound that is just as jarring as it is awe-inspiring. Their 2018 album, Safe in the Hands of Love, released on Warp, ended up being one of my favorite releases of the year, so when I FINALLY got to see Yves Tumor and its band kick off their world tour this past month in New Orleans, I wasn’t gonna pass that up.

As the lights hung low (very, very low- Yves likes it dark), Yves Tumor and its band took to the stage straight out of the 1970’s, bringing a serious energy of glam right out of the gate with opener “Gospel For a New Century”. The song is the lead singer of the project’s new album, Heaven to a Tortured Mind, which will be out in April. It’s a sauntering jam full of distorted horns and eerie female vocals, but Yves kept the song grounded in a fiery display of vulnerable machismo. 

A majority of the songs the band played come from the yet to be released LP, including the brand new second single, “Kerosene!” This song was second to last at the show, and it showcased the further evolution into the realm of psychedelic 70’s rock, with soaring electric guitar leads and explosive battling vocals between Yves and his backup singers. All under the ominous light of a disco ball, it was a cathartic moment of bliss and passion that left me breathless.

As amazing as the new songs were, Yves proved that the songs from Safe in the Hands of Love still felt just as electrifying. The Brit-pop inspired “Noid”, the trip-hop melancholy of “Licking An Orchid” and the hypnotizing repetition “Recognizing the Enemy” all sounded exactly how I envisioned live and then some. Yves Tumor has proven time and time again her ability to take sounds of the past and flip and distort them into something entirely new, and nowhere is that more apparent than at their live shows.

As an act that banks on religious themes and imagery, it came as no surprise to see Yves Tumor leading the audience like a congregation, with him jumping off stage and joining the crowd, grabbing hands as they reached for him and offering the mic to excited fans. You can tell that his passion for the music and his audience is strong, and made the whole concert experience feel special and infectiously enjoyable. 

When I asked Yves Tumor after the show what pronouns they prefer to be referred to as, they told me they’d rather “I didn’t refer to them at all”, and that he/she/they/it, it didn’t matter to them; gender cannot be a limiting factor. A truly unique musician, Yves Tumor is the precarious and finely crafted idea of what identity is, and what the pop icon of the future can be. They gave me a concert experience I’ll never forget, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Heaven to a Tortured Mind © Warp

Heaven to a Tortured Mind is out on Warp Records on April 4th. Until then, you can catch them on their world tour, and you can enjoy Safe in the Hands of Love below:

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