Review Summary: A great pop album that fits many moods, under any light.
Yumi Zouma is a humble pop group from New Zealand that found modest success warming-up the stage for mega-star Lorde while touring their home country after positive response first two EP’s, and a swift debut album they recorded while on the road in North America. It was a great start for the band’s career but after all the touring was over members would find each other as pinpoints spread across the world map before they decided to reunite in Christchurch to write, record, and produce their sophomore effort “Willowbank”.
If you have yet to hear this album be sure to clear your busy head before that first listen because after I can guarantee you’re gonna have at least a couple of these highly addictive tunes stuck inside your head for a while. The more settled recording environment really shows in comparison to their 2016 debut “Yoncolla” improving, and rebuilding the characteristics making the more punchy, danceable record that their style demands to display blending bright, and wide dream-pop with dynamic electronica to make for a versatile listening experience that fits under many lights.The album is sequenced with four singles all at the first side of the track listing, then the album continues and calms down before it quickly picks right back up again. Consistently delivering amazing hooks is what this album does best “Persephone” and “Us, Together” prove early on to be two of the album’s dominant pieces.
Nearly every album to almost every listener has highlights but it’s hard to argue that Willowbank left any room for mediocrity. Songs like “Half Hour” echo the strongest vocal performance on the album and the bare instrumentation on “Gabriel” that give singer Christie Simpson’s emotional output just the right amount of room that it needs to breathe while her vocals are just as strong in front of the more active, and added performances on the album. I get the sense that each band member brings something unique to the album’s sound like the synthesizers that melt into every song, the beautifully sewn string sections through various songs, the often energetic percussion work that politely beats through, and the sly lead guitar melodies paired with subtle rhythm work, all these contributions are best displayed towards the end of the track listing on “A Memory”. The album ends just how it began with “Depths” a song so good, they had to play it twice.
To me, this project proves what a group of talented musicians can do when they really commit themselves to writing pure pop songs, with their focus led to making an exceptionally catchy record. Willowbank is some of the best ear-candy to come from 2017, and Yumi Zouma is certainly a band I will keep my ears out for because I think they have a lot of potentials to reach a larger audience than the tight fanbase they already have, and that they have a lot to offer this wild world of popular music.