‘Safe in the Hands of Love’ too inconsistent for praise

It is Yves Tumor’s third studio album. (Photo courtesy of Warp)

Pat Connell
Connector Staff

“Safe in the Hands of Love” is the newest album by Yves Tumor, an experimental electronic music artist with a global spread of places he has been recording throughout the years: Italy, Miami, Berlin and Los Angeles. In a similar vein, all these different locations reflect the wide array of sounds that Yves Tumor touches upon in this newest release. There are many genuinely well-produced songs that are intriguing on this album. However, noticeable variation here more so hinders than help, indicating some lack of directive focus.

The album’s opener is a short tune with a descending harmony of horns repeatedly overlaying an ominous squeal. The song seems primed for a follow-up of some solemnly themed rap song, but after the notable sound gap between tracks, “Economy of Freedom” plays. The song starts by spending nearly half its time sputtering around making interesting, atmospheric noises, but its essence is somewhat lost until the point where drums kick in as there is nothing to keep the listener grounded in the song before then. Yves Tumor does manage to use his voice well here with crooning vocal production akin to Lil Peep or Frank Ocean on “Endless.”

“Honesty” follows and marks where the album’s best section begins. It possesses the same distant vocal style of “Economy,” but the instrumentation has a quick, early-90s dance beat paired with it, and synth chords sounding like they are pulsing from a void. Kind of soothing, which is not the same as the song after, “Noid.” It stands out like a sore thumb as it is so pop influenced. Unlike its predecessors, “Noid” has a catchy bouncing vocal melody atop some bright string instruments to make it very appealing to the ears. The effect of the multilayered vocals especially encourages an earworm to bore into the listeners head.

“Licking an Orchid” has an acoustic guitar played back with incredibly high reverb as the base of the song, and the vocals are interwoven to be complementary. The live drumming fills in well to accentuate the inflections of the singing. Halfway through, the song takes on an intensely overdriven guitar solo guaranteed to give listener tinnitus, releasing the tension afterwards with the eerie lull of a woman.

Following that is “Lifetime,” where Yves Tumor chants in a blissfully harmonized way with himself. Drumming here is filled with rapid spurts of pellets hammered onto toms with the occasional hi-hat vibrating closed. Overall, this song has the most varied set of instrumentation on the album. Things just pop in for a measure or two and quickly fade as fast as they came in. Hereafter, the quality of songs certainly drops, notably with the next track.

“Hope in Suffering” is needlessly abstract. It sounds like someone took a field recording of some train station muffled from the device being carried in a pocket, and then a single violin is placed over it. Yves Tumor then hops in for a spoken word rant delivered in a fake working-class British accent.

The diversity of tracks is hazy for “Recognizing the Enemy,” as it sounds like “Licking An Orchid” tonally, and the instrumentation and structure to it is comparable, too. “All the Love We Have Now” comes in like an odd wave with its synthpop vibe, though the ethereal noise in the background is reminiscent of “Hope in Suffering” a few songs earlier.

Several publications list “Safe in the Hands of Love” as top-tier for what’s been released in 2018, but that is not quite right; their lauding is a tad unwarranted. The album has interesting sounds, yet they are jumbled in songs that are not quite sure how to orchestrate a cohesive feeling throughout. The lack of structure to some songs lets the listener ease back to mitigate focus, but then jarring songs play and the focus can be lost.

Final Grade: C+

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