After the “Alena” and “Song for Zoe & Gwen” singles that dropped in November and February, respectively, EP II is the third consecutive release from New Zealand synthpop trio Yumi Zouma to depict a remote outdoor swim in overcast weather on the cover. It’s not misleading; the five tracks on the group’s second EP, out almost exactly one year after the first, suggest a comfortably lukewarm mist over a stagnant bay, a hot spring, or, yes, a heated outdoor luxury pool. Simply put, they feel humid.
“Alena”, the second track here, even opens with 30 seconds of sampled rainfall drizzling over the mix. But by the song’s finish four minutes later, Yumi Zouma has stepped in from the rain, dried off, and already made a few rounds through the club. What started off floating through the fog ends up firmly on the floor, weighed down by heavy keys and an authoritative pulse. This has been the young group’s game to date: treat the luxurious and the spiritual as the same breed. Find the common ground between a rain-softened hiking trail through the mountains and getting down on the dance floor.
Yumi Zouma blends these worlds best on “Catastrophe” and “Song for Zoe & Gwen”. The former harnesses a patently ’80s feel with a synth choir supporting singer Kim Pflaum’s shine and a flawless bass line rounding it all out, while the latter is the record’s softest song, fading out a long day of swimming and dancing into a dream. “Whatever makes your heart beat faster,” Pflaum sings in a suddenly elevated chorus fragment of “Song for Zoe & Gwen” — the heartbeat-skip of the EP — and there’s no blaming her for doing just that in the moment.
Essential Tracks: “Catastrophe”, “Song for Zoe & Gwen”