“Heaven To A Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor’s new album released on Warp, is made up of 12 precisely crafted songs. “Gospel For A New Century,” the lead single and opening track, bursts forward with some triumphant brassy bars, augmented by brass and woodwinds. Chopping old school samples with original recordings and live instrumentation is a production method Yves Tumor is well-versed in. Their vocals feature prominently, with songwriting that is universally legible: “You know I’m out my mind girl/don’t make this harder/come and light my fire, baby.” In an album that shoots for many heartfelt anthems, this one succeeds with the most gusto.
“Romanticist” takes the same approach to songwriting and samples elements from the classic Korean funk track “김남미 – 오! 그말.” It dissolves into a more abstract setup with a seamless transition to the following song “Dream Palette.” This track quickly destabilises itself with a kinetic drum solo, a tornado of guitar feedback and the faint whistling of fireworks being set off. Even though this chaos is carefully choreographed, it’s these messy moments that convince me of such self-serious lyrics: “Our hearts are in danger / Tell me, is this fundamental love?” The sweet nothings in “Romanticist” would not work without the dangerous entropy of “Dream Palette.”
Many tracks do well on their own, including “Kerosene!,” a slow burner that shines bright as Yves Tumor and Diana Gordon croon at each other. “Strawberry Privilege” is a unique cut in its use of acappella, with choral chanting becoming its own instrument. Much of this album focuses on love, obvious in the lyrics, and sex appeal, as apparent in its funk influences, and while accessible and legible songs can be refreshing, sometimes these themes are best approached from an angle rather than head-on.
Part of what made Yves Tumor’s past albums so emotionally affecting was the balance of dopamine-releasing earworms and punishing noise. The instrumental near the end of the album, “Asteroid Blues,” could’ve been that opportunity but is instead a forgettable two-minute band jam. Tumor’s most moving music combines seemingly incompatible or weirdly cerebral styles into work that demands an emotional response from the body: heartache, hunger, goosebumps, blood flow. Heaven To A Tortured Mind isn’t necessarily the most dynamic release by the artist, but in its best moments, it’s a heaping dose of musical ingenuity.”-Resident Advisor