Personnel: Andrew Keoghan (strings).
It's easy to hear why the young, fresh-faced New Zealand quintet Yumi Zouma caught the ear of the Cascine label when they first started sending their demos around. The sound is a fresh, young version of the kind of shimmery, lo-key, disco pop that label acts like Korallreven, Keep Shelly in Athens, and Kisses are known for. After a few EPs that served as a warm-up, their full-length debut, Yoncalla, provides a very clear picture of the band's strengths. Vocalist Christie Simpson has an unsullied, pristine voice that fits well with the scrubbed-fresh synths and the occasional male vocals that chime in to join her. She plays the same role here that Karolina plays on Club 8 records, a band that Yumi Zouma sound very much like. Thanks to the consistency of the spacious arrangements, the songs have an unassuming nature that allows them to sneak up on the listener over repeated listens. A couple tracks stand out from the flow of pleasant, tuneful songs; "Haji Awali" is one, with its indie pop guitars and loud/quiet dynamics; the slinky tropical pop-flavored "Text from Sweden" is another. Mostly though, Yoncalla bobs along like a raft on a sun-dappled swimming pool, the occupant having few cares and a refreshing beverage close at hand. It's made for summer days like that and summer nights, too. Only "Better When I'm by Your Side," which hews a little too closely to the Lorde template, does anything to darken the mood. It's a tiny stumble that does little to detract from the pleasing nature of the rest of the album. ~ Tim Sendra