September 23, 2020
I discovered Yves through Mykki Blanco and their camaraderie makes a lot of sense. Both individuals are multi-genre, multi-disciplinary artists who toy with the audience's notions about gender and just gush sensuality and desire. And so of course musically, there's absolutely no way to characterize Yves; their previous work darts from harsh noise and industrial to glammed out dark pop and synth heavy motifs. Parts of "Safe In The Hands of Love" poked at the latter style (to some extent). On "Heaven to a Tortured Mind", Yves chomps explores this style fully, blending funky drum chops, sexed out basslines and relentlessly delicious vocals. The instrumentation here is very precise but not rigid. Sure there's some P-Funk, Ziggy Stardust, maybe the Stooges and some Josephine Baker being welded together here, enveloping topics like self destruction, wayward spirituality, alienation, humid nostalgia, mystery, and a smoldering rage. The lyrics, intensity, and dynamics never run afoul of one another with the runtime, all is perfect.
"Gospel for a new Century" opens the album perfectly with a straight up rocker with fuzz, horns, and "Medicine Burn", if I were hard pressed to pick a single song, is probably my favorite track because it swims against the current with dizzy guitars and drums that push and shove their way around the track that relent for brief moments. "Romanticist" is tucked away at just under two minutes offering another look at Yves' writing chops with nice chorus for you to hum to. Jump ahead to "Strawberry Privilege" which features overlapping vocals with another singer and Yves crooning falsetto beautifully.
Yves is certainly one of the most cryptic artists in a delightful way, flummoxing boring interviewers and completely machete hacking the audience's expectations. There's little pretense in the delivery of Yves' material and essence. "Heaven..." is deceivingly accessible because of its impeccable songwriting and because it then jolts the listener out of their comfort zone. An interviewer once asked Yves "Can you tell me why you do what you do?" to which Yves replies "No." And that's why "Heaven" is a solid album of the year for me, begging to be played again like a lover clutching a dagger sunk beneath the water.