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Yumi Zouma may not have the heart for chasing but they’ve certainly stolen mine

Photo credit Aaron Lee & Alex Evans

Clockwise from Top: Olivia Campion (Drums), Christie Simpson (Vocals),

Charlie Ryder (Bass, Guitar, Keys), Josh Burgess (Bass, Guitar, Keys, Vocals)

As the days get shorter and the nights get darker, I think I’ve found the album to get me through the gruesome British cold. Despite being released in March, I seem to have found Present Tense at the perfect time – or rather it feels as if it found me. If its transcendence, wistful romantics or half an hour of calming soundscapes you seek, this record is the one for you. Present Tense truly has it all. Thrilling sax, emotive vocals and overdriven guitars that reverberate through the marrows; this album will take you on a journey through cleverly crafted lyrics. Considering its creation coincided with the fallout of one of the most challenging periods our generation has ever faced, this album is nothing but comfort to me and I hope it can be for you too.

The four-piece has recently released a music video for the third song on the album "If I Had The Heart For Chasing". The video adopts an ethereal quality through the washed-out filter, while providing us with injections of pure joy through 35mm tour photos on the pumping beats of the track. This collection of intimate videos and images is a gift and feels like a peek inside the collective diary of the band. It is an opportunity to see their bond not only with each other but also with their fans through the added set clips from their March European tour. The video finishes with a clip of the band discussing how the crowd ‘were just having the grooviest time’, sounding somewhat surprised; their humble presentation remains to be one of their most endearing qualities.

This video is a triumph in director Alex Ross Perry’s recent series of videos for Present Tense. The three previous videos all carried an otherworldly feel and evidently lean into the theme of escapism the band like to utilize. All three videos present a trio embarking on mind-warping experiences by going through a series of doors, connecting them in their own Yumi Zoumaverse.

"If I Had The Heart For Chasing" is a more real addition to this series that brings us back down to earth, but with the welcome of a warm embrace.

The track itself is as gorgeous as the video. Stunning vocals alongside beautiful cello that really shine through in the bridge and outro are enough to thaw even the coldest of hearts as Christie sings of a love that is perhaps wrapped in commitment issues. The bridge is not only a favorite instrumentally, but it moved me to no end lyrically too. The opening line ‘Not just another face, want you to say my name, babe’, hits hard in a moment of vulnerability, pleading for connection. Strong beats from Olivia throughout evoke the feeling of the narrator’s heartbeat throwing us headfirst into the fast-paced flurry of their love life and the roads they feel they should ‘run again’, instead of fleeing.

Other notable tracks from the record include "Razorblade" – a personal favorite of mine. With basslines that flow over you like a hot shower in winter, it was no doubt that the track would be a winner upon my first listen. A tale of apprehension and unfinished business that has the charged tension of a final conversation between lovers. This song perfectly balances the scales between seduction and heartbreak. We begin with enticing bass and minimal percussion alongside dreamy vocals from the outset as the instrumentals build throughout. Yumi Zouma manages to effortlessly marry the gorgeous strings of the final chorus to their striking guitar additions and present a masterclass in building both instrumental and narrative tension in perfect harmony. Finally, the track explodes into a fuzzy guitar solo on the outro cutting off just before the 3-minute mark to close out the song and leave listeners craving more – perhaps like the narrator.

If you need some momentary escapism from turbulent times, Present Tense is the album for you. This record feels like the pleasant ache at the end of a concert, the rush before a first kiss and like coming home.

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