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Yves Jarvis - The Zug Music Album Reviews

Yves Jarvis - The Zug Music Album Reviews
Made up of acoustic instrumentation and primitive electronics, the Montreal-based psych-folk auteur’s latest navigates a world of discord with wide-eyed optimism and withering wit.

The evolution of Jean-Sébastien Audet—the artist formerly known as Un Blonde and currently answering to Yves Jarvis—has been governed by a curious contradiction. As the Montreal-based psych-folk auteur has reined in the crazy-quilt sprawl of earlier releases for more compact, half-hour statements, his songs have become more gloriously overstuffed. Like his previous solo effort, 2020’s Sundry Rock Song Stock, The Zug presents itself as a conventionally scaled rock album of robust two-minute tunes that push Jarvis further away from the days when he would dish out 30-second avant-gospel field recordings or linger in a Tropicália oasis for eight minutes. But he’s not so much editing ideas out as folding them into one another, compacting his beautiful mess of thoughts and sounds into tidy little boxes until they’re liable to burst.

Throughout The Zug, Audet imagines your favorite ’60s psych-rock artists going on their ashram retreats and never coming back, liberating themselves from all sense of pop song logic and crowd-pleasing obligation. He delights in transmuting the familiar into the foreign: propelled by tense acoustic strums and his double-tracked vocals, “At the Whims” could almost pass for a vintage CSNY cut—at least until the song is infected by electronic squelches, looming waves of feedback, and a jazzy guitar solo that sounds like it’s being played on a backwards loop. Audet’s melodies are bubblegum in the truest sense of the word, their defined shapes gradually mangled and stretched into infinite directions. Though “Prism Through Which I Perceive” may only clock in at a minute, it remolds itself on a line-by-line basis. While its opening salvo suggests a cosmic classic-rock hymn, it quickly downshifts into a quirky prog waltz and back again, like two different songs battling for squatter’s rights of the same vinyl groove.

Though it draws from a familiar palette of acoustic instrumentation and primitive electronics, The Zug is greatly distinguished from Audet’s previous work by its restless sense of rhythm, which lends even the album’s most scatterbrained moments—like the loopy organ doodle “Gestalt” and stuttering kitchen-sink jam “Thrust”—a frantic forward momentum. But where songs like “Projection” effortlessly fuse meditative folk and hyperactive funk like a campfire Can, “What?” sees Audet gesture toward the dancefloor, melding frisky grooves, ecstatic harmonies, and lysergic guitar solos like a pawn-shop Prince.

For all of its shape-shifting musical abandon, The Zug finds Audet delivering his philosophical musings with an ever-enhanced focus. At this point, he’s become the anti-Kurt Vile: While both artists use self-referential meta-songwriting to stake out their zen state in a volatile world, Audet forsakes zoned-out hypno-jams for bursts of quiet chaos that starkly illuminate the fine line between inner peace and external turmoil. “We’re out on the fringe/Making the best of this flight,” he sings at the start of “At the Whims,” and over the course of the record, he deftly navigates a world of disinformation and discord with a combination of wide-eyed optimism and withering wit. “Endless Tube” is a string-sweetened ode to both the wonders and horrors of the internet, while “On the Line” uses gospel aesthetics to skewer puritans whose conception of freedom doesn’t go beyond the right to be unrepentant assholes.

But while The Zug tilts toward topicality, its most fertile subject remains Audet himself. The album’s greatest moment of clarity comes with “Bootstrap Jubilee,” a breezy origin-story anthem that both celebrates Audet’s work ethic, while acknowledging the family, friends, musical communities, and privilege that abetted his ascent. Audet may be the archetypal home-recording hermit operating in splendid isolation, but his music is ultimately a vehicle for connection, inviting you to savor the people and places that keep you sane.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Yves Jarvis - The Zug Music Album Reviews Yves Jarvis - The Zug Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, May 30, 2022 Rating: 5

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