Yves Tumor blends pop and experimental rock on ‘Hot Between Worlds’


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Mia Euceda, Arts & Culture Editor

Experimental musician Yves Tumor continues to innovate their boundary-breaking interpretations of rock on “Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds),” released on March 17.

The artist, born Sean Bowie, builds on the glam rock, shoegaze and post-punk sounds they recently introduced on their last album “Heaven to a Tortured Mind” and “The Asymptotical World” EP. Tumor extracts the best elements of these genres and combines them to create something entirely different — only this time, Tumor cranks up the larger-than-life sound to intensify a dreamy atmosphere.

Despite these off-kilter influences, “Hot Between Worlds” is Tumor’s most accessible and commercial sounding release to date. It’s experimental enough to keep longtime fans interested and catchy enough to attract mainstream audiences.

Tumor’s ethos is directly expressed in the title as they explore themes of religious devotion on the album. The concept of divine love also serves as a stand-in for interhuman love.

Throughout “Hot Between Worlds,” Tumor blurs the barriers between deities and mortals to allude how easy it is to put romantic partners on a pedestal.

“Operator” is a playful track. Tumor desperately calls for help or for some kind of response. His groans and yelps are reminiscent of flamboyant glam rockers David Bowie and Marc Bolan.

“How will you tolerate me? Sometimes you are so hard to please,” the singer croons. “Are you my lord and savior?”

On the surface, these lyrics seem to be a religious reference to a demanding god, but simultaneously could refer to a relationship centered around one person’s needs as well as the power imbalance that comes with such a deifiedperception.

The spiritual motifs continue in “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood.” The track opens with a child saying “Well, if you die, it’s okay, you could just restart.”

Tumor borrows ripping guitar riffs from ‘70s Zambian rock music and implements sickly sweet synthesizers to create a dreamy landscape.

The track’s composition is an auditory representation of samsara — the Hindu cycle of perpetual rebirth.

The intro is full of vigor before it begins to dwindle into a soft interlude, only to start over and return to its youthful energy. Perhaps the “restart” the song brings up is referring to a spiritual rebirth, or the act of just simply trying again after failure.

The song “Echolalia” ties into the theme of overdependence. Tumor compares a woman to God and insists on being dominated by her, only for a female voice to point out the noxiousness of the request. “I don’t want anyone to depend on me/If…your happiness only depends on me, it might not be true love,” she stoically states.

“Purified By the Fire” is a callback to the artist’s more experimental sound on earlier projects, like “Safe in the Hands of Love” from 2018.  The song features a ‘70s soul sample that progressively gets slower with a booming rap beat forcing its way in to disrupt the loop. It’s melancholic, yet uplifting.

“Hot Between Worlds” received positive reception from critics. Pitchfork gave the album an 8.4 out of 10 and added itto its list of “best new music.” Tayyab Amin of The Guardian wrote a four-star review and said Tumor shares “some of their catchiest and most openly introspective songwriting yet” on this release.

Although it’s rewarding to hear Tumor enhance their capabilities as a pop-rock musician, it feels like more priority was given to the lush production and instrumentation. The lyrics on “Hot Between Worlds” sound like an afterthought and lack the depth and surreal imagery seen in their previous work. Putting that aside, the album remains a strong addition to Tumor’s discography.