Yves Tumor's fifth studio album was released a couple of days ago on Warp Records with the verbose title Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds). Here, American experimental musician Sean Bowie takes their spiky, agitated but concise blend of rock, electronic and industrial music to new heights. This is experimental queer punk rock that becomes pop to the max.
“See, I just wanna know, will you be by my side?” asks the voice of experimental producer and musician Sean Bowie in the chorus of one of the most powerful tracks on their new album, In Spite of War. By the time you get to this song chronologically (number eight on the tracklist) you will have realised that this is Yves Tumor's best work to date. That chorus, that crescendo of drums that never stops exploding and exploding. Their artistic approach has always been experiential; this time the listener feels even more included in this heated journey given the performative element of this rock album; “Can you spell it out for us? run it back in slow motion” asks Sean on the tongue in cheek track Parody. It's great to hear them sing ‘in slow motion’ and for the song to end exactly like that.

Is there such a thing as optimistic shoegaze? This album is exciting, fresh and cool. It feels like Yves Tumor's work is completely new, like a new approach to fantasy. Rock, lo-fi, punk... Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) is a party where the musical genres are fluid and clever. In a way it's The Rocky Horror Picture Show of pop music in 2023.

Yves Tumor elevate their underground element by exercising the subtle, far from the obvious. Synthesisers provide the loco-motion. The guitars are boisterous yet quite glamorous. The percussion is absolutely insane. Here Prince meets The Kills meets Self Esteem meets Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Only edgier and more camp.
The latest single Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood manifests an autobiographical approach to the whole story (“I met a boy with no head, he told me his secrets / I looked into his eyes, you know he was so pure of heart”) as we can hear the voice of a young boy in the background, a song in which they seem to zoom in and out by changing the protagonist's perspective. But it also contains one of many other juxtapositions in the album's lyrics: “I see the colour red in so many places / I love the colour blue because it's in the sky / And that's where God is.”

There are explicit references to a God, but more otherworldly than biblical. It goes hand in hand with some of the references in Meteora Blues (“With lips just likе red flower's petals”). Identity is still very present in Sean's writing, as we have already seen in the first two singles Echolalia (“Can we take a day off? / Treat me like a doll / I don't know how to act when I'm on my own”) and the lead single God is a circle (“adore being your little girl / maybe I made it all up in my head”). This religious factor present in this work points to a supposed paradise, one similar to that portrayed by Jean-Luc Godard in his film Notre Musique (2004), and its final part Realm 3: Heaven.

This is a no skips album. Operator is a fun and fiery conversation with... God? The system? The media? Yves Tumor closes this album with an amazing song called Ebony Eyes. Gloria Gaynor's I Will Suvive-style strings join the party, a fiery party where the flames get bigger and bigger, a party we can't wait to return to.
Yves Tumor displaces, alters and plays with the boundaries of contemporary art and culture in a visceral and authentic sound signature without limits. With an arc that spans rock, psychedelia and electronica in a constant reinvention of modern pop music, comparisons only serve as limitations meant to define what cannot be. The narrative of this album is explorative and self-assuring, not only for the main character narrating these magnificent and challenging songs, but also for Yves Tumor's musical universe. This is intelligent, non-classist pop music; immense in its essence, without snobbery, accessible to everyone.

The greatest and most complex thing about this album is that only Yves Tumor could have made it. These songs deserve to be huge and to be played in massive stadiums, but their underground background is inherent to their existence. And it reminds us once again that pop music can be witty, impeccable and subversive. Warning: you are about to hear (one of?) the best album(s) of the year.