Yves Tumor
Heaven To A Tortured Mind


2.4
average

Review

by Claire Q. STAFF
April 27th, 2020 | 16 replies


Release Date: 04/03/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: a perplexing labour of love

On June 29, 2017, Yves sent out a (now deleted) tweet that said “ALL THESE LABELS WANT THE WEIRDO SHIT I JUST WANNA MAKE POP”. Lo and behold, his desires would begin to be fulfilled not too long after: 2018’s Safe in the Hands of Love combined his trademark noisy soundscapes with more straightforwardly structured hits. Actually, it wasn’t quite so dualistic: amongst other things, we were given static-drowned roars, a woke indie banger, a languorous (and possibly mildly incestuous) ballad, more familiar ambient territories. Not yet the “pop” described, but this was the first sign of things to come.

I suppose it’s appropriate to call Heaven to a Tortured Mind Yves’ bona fide pop album, complete with retro-funk stylings. Not to say that it doesn’t try to be subversive, larger than life — for one thing, its release has been accompanied by a rather elaborate visual campaign, its moodiness and overt (queer-coded) sexuality represented by writhing bodies, jewels, ostentatious fashion and costumes. Yet, in trying to bridge the gap between “weird” and “pop” tendencies, Heaven to a Tortured Mind fails to sufficiently capture the charms of either side, leaving a collection of slick-sounding but undercooked pieces. Buried deep down are the seeds of a cogent critique of tropes related to romantic love, but it never develops into an impactful message.

“Gospel for a New Century”, “Romanticist” and “Dream Palette” are the few tracks on the album that truly feel substantive and memorable. The first, full of heralding brass and seductive swagger, opens up the album with a grandeur that unfortunately never shows up again; the second, serving as a relaxed set-up, segues seamlessly into the psychedelic high of the third, which features exploding fireworks and makes good use of its shimmering guitar sample (from Willie Hutch’s “A Love That’s Worth Having”). Something about “Dream Palette”, in particular, recalls the layered nuances of Yves’ earlier work — a genuinely impassioned duet, a richly detailed interplay of clashing sounds, a mean groove being carried all the while. I suspect that it is successful in part because it doesn’t try to elaborate any further on its dedicated bassline-driven section; it knows when to indulge in layering and when to hold back to let integral components shine — in this case, the hypnotic rhythm section and forceful, punctuated vocal lines.

For lack of a better description, a majority of songs on Heaven to a Tortured Mind simply lack a good hook. Given the album’s overt pop identity, it would naturally seem to be more hook-dependent than previous Yves works, and yet its attempts in this regard are half-hearted. Efforts to spice things up with weirdness fail: “Asteroid Blues”, for instance, is simply a repetitive bassline with distorted vocal samples sprinkled on top; other songs, equally repetitive, try to mask their lack of structural variety with odd harmonies and noise (“Medicine Burn”; the half-baked, abruptly ending “Identity Trade”) or simply settle into an atmospheric drift (“Hasdallen Lights”, “Strawberry Privilege”). “Super Stars” deserves a special mention for the irritating quality of its falsetto vocals, which comes off as sleazy. (I don’t care if the sleaziness is part of an intentional critique of romantic obsession. It’s annoying and memorable for all the wrong reasons.)

This lack of hook-based engagement is a real shame for the album’s lyrics, which are often in themselves not so far-removed from regular pop clichés (e.g. “I can live in your dream / Will you be my fantasy, little baby? / You’re just what I need”) and would have needed that conscious excess to really push them into a parodic or satirical realm. On songs where the subversion and criticism is more obvious (e.g. “Our very own bloodbath / A spiritual war crime / Addicted to the torment / Our mouths wide open” from “Folie Imposée”), there’s no cohesion between the message and the tone; “Folie Imposée” glitches out in a way that does convey tedium and repetitiveness, but fails to capture the undercurrent of pain that would have been the sticking element.

In short, I’m perplexed at what seems to have been a regression in Yves’ trajectory. Safe from the Hands of Love had already begun to deftly juggle his “experimental” tendencies alongside burgeoning pop ones, but Heaven to a Tortured Mind eliminates the diversity and nuance of its predecessor in favour of underdeveloped avant-pop. It’s bewildering that the success of “Dream Palette” hasn’t been replicated elsewhere on the album, given that it doesn’t rely on a particularly complex formula; it’s even sadder that “Super Stars” follows right after it, in a stark reminder of the album’s inability to capitalize fully on its concept.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
clavier
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2020


1100 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4 | Sound Off

i know i am very late to the party, but disappointment doesn't die so quickly

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2020


3323 Comments


Beautiful writing. Gonna finally give this a proper listen, I really like all of the singles I've heard.

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rabidfish
April 27th 2020


6020 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

great review, adresses most of my issues with the album, and my disappointment with it as both an album and an attitude towards the music it's supposed to take from.

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Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2020


2955 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

*extremely thumbs up emoji*

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MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
April 27th 2020


11252 Comments


Sounds like this misses the mark on anything it shot for. Pop-ish but not having that big chorus to help out. Nice stuff, good to see you back

SteakByrnes
April 27th 2020


19535 Comments


Claire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice review :3

Digging: Spiritbox - Singles Collection

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2020


26639 Comments


n i c e stuff

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MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
April 27th 2020


686 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review. I feel what you're saying and it hurts. That last album really felt like a revelation

Gyromania
April 28th 2020


30097 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Great review. Found this incredibly weak and I loved Safe in the Hands

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2020


20283 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't hate this but didn't love it either.



Great rev Claire.

Digging: The Gathering - if_then_else

nightbringer
May 20th 2020


1269 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Sadly this is growing off me more with each listen. I feel like I love what this album is aspiring to be but maybe not what it ends up actually being.

Greyvy
June 11th 2020


5858 Comments


this is good

Ryus
June 11th 2020


18850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea sput did this one dirty

rabidfish
June 11th 2020


6020 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

nah, this sucks lol

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2020


19548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

surprisingly big fan of this

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2020


18474 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

there's not nothing to this album but it's not good. maybe I'll listen to it again though



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