Willowbank, Yumi Zouma

By Mitchell Rose, Staff Writer

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SCORE: 5.4

Step 1: Find Yumi Zouma’s new album Willowbank
Step 2: Press play
Step 3: Begin uncontrollable foot tapping.

Electropop group Yumi Zouma wastes no time on their new album. All the introduction needs is a single snare hit before the irresistibly smooth melody of “Depths (Pt. 1) takes over. In case your ankle wasn’t sore after the workout it got during the opening track, the follow-up tracks “Persephone” and “December” keep the groove going. When Yumi Zouma plays their funky basslines underneath airy synths, you don’t have a choice but to dance.

However, Willowbank does the worst possible thing: it slows down. This is not to say that Yumi Zouma can’t make a good slow song, but coming in with an energetic intro, the slow songs sound out of place. “Half Hour” sounds like a song The XX would make if they had a less compelling vocalist, and “Gabriel” is a beautiful song in the wrong place in the album, completely killing off the slim remaining momentum.

By the time the end of the album comes around, Willowbank starts to blend into melancholic monotony. The freshness from the beginning is gone and what’s left is a series of tracks that sound like they should make you dance but just don’t. Tracks like “A Memory” seem bouncy and exciting at first, but soon sound like a cover of an old Crystal Castles song that no one asked for.

Overall, Willowbank represents a huge improvement from their debut album Yoncalla. When they stick to what they’re good at, Yumi Zouma can deliver some truly catchy tracks. But, on both of their albums, they have yet to prove that they’re able to fill albums entirely with quality content. If Yumi Zouma can create the album that their potential longs for, they’ll certainly be a group to watch.

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