That Yumi Zouma‘s new album is named after a geographical location seems rather fitting. The NZ band had piecemeal beginnings, making beguiling dream-pop via remote coordination before geography (and more) caused a shift in line-up. Yoncalla, then, feels like it comes not so much out of the desire of wanderlust but more the place they’ve found spiritual peace.
Truth be told, Yumi Zouma have never sounded so fully-formed and beautiful as they do on this expansive debut record. Melodies bounce back and forth between band members on songs like Haji Awali, while just the simple notes on Remember You At All are quite a lesson in how stripping things back can still feel refreshing in the right hands.
What’s more, the band make an effortless but very tangible progression from their previous EPs. The sound filters out from the fuzzed blinds of their origins, almost straight-up pop on Short Truth while mining the more emotional sides of dreamwave on Keep It Close To Me. Layers of vocals swathe songs like Yesterday, wrapping things up like a the softest cloud as Yumi Zouma continue their skyward journey.
If it sounds like we’re making this an absolute gush-fest, then there’s some truth to that – it’s hard to find fault with Yoncalla other than to say that perhaps the last two tracks lose the celestial momentum from everything gone before. But it’s a small price to pay for a record of such high quality, and the year’s most endearing dream-pop collection. Find Yoncalla, mark it on your map, and make it your happy place the way Yumi Zouma do.