To most people, Yumi Zouma have a career that’s enviable. Despite a line-up change early on in their career, the band seem to have preserved the essence of what made their brand of dream-pop special. More to the point, with every release they’ve also managed to sculpt it into something that never feels like a retread of what’s gone before.
Their latest album, Willowbank, is another record that ought to be a mark of pride for both the band and their fans. As Depths (Pt. I) opens, they’ve added a little hit of funk to their mid-tempo weavings; yet the way they write and approach songs means that they can wring unknown depth from the same words. Depths (Pt. II) is a stripped back version of the earlier song, delivered with a different register and somehow giving it an entirely new shade.
Yumi Zouma can do upbeat, and they can do downbeat. Persephone shuffles in its own delight, with a chorus that’s almost blissfully unaware of the world around it, while Half Hour is one of their darker and more introspective songs. It’s all held together by Christie Simpson’s perfectly-pitched tone, backed with the boys’ harmonies that are slight enough to add volume but not so wispy that they feel unnecessary.
That balancing act is what makes Yumi Zouma so damn endearing all the way through Willowbank, just as it did on Yoncalla. Even as they sing “everything is rotten” on Us, Together, there’s a sense that the world they live in is still one that has the most positive outlook, building on that with a nimble Carnation and In Blue which almost feel like their first distant flirtation with proper commercial pop. Yumi Zouma certainly have a quality that could win over the masses, but even without that it’s still a joy to seem them become more and more in tune, and in turn wonderful, with every release.