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The Zug is Yves Jarvis refining his art

"The Zug"

Release date: 13 May 2022
Yves jarvis the zug art
13 May 2022, 12:50 Written by Simon Heavisides
Over the course of three albums Canadian polymath Yves Jarvis has carved out a welcome niche.

It’s a place where Elliott Smith style whispered intimacy rubs up against warped lo-fi R&B in a warm and woozy musical stew trailing a dotted line lineage back to David Crosby and Brian Wilson via the complex baroque pop of Eric Matthews. Jarvis pulls off that difficult trick of creating his own artistic world and then cordially invites you to join him.

In the past he’s alluded to an ongoing process of refining his music as part of a general drift towards giving listeners an easier way in. There’s no doubt fourth album The Zug is a pretty approachable record, but that user friendly quality hasn’t come at the cost of sacrificed idiosyncrasy, Jarvis still has that quality fully intact, but tighter structure and sharper focus correct earlier weaknesses. In fact songs such as “For Props” from previous album the mordantly titled Sundry Rock Song Stock had already demonstrated a gorgeously open and floating west coast lilt that without using an obvious verse-chorus structure was still instantly welcoming.

The Zug’s equivalent may be the irresistible “Bootstrap Jubilee” a gorgeous earworm of a song wrapped in a warm melancholy, unravel it and you have the wryly self-deprecating story of Jarvis’ life to date, in which he seeks, “to gain some traction in this corporeal scheme” after being born, “with an immediate reluctance to exist”.

Elsewhere the Lyndsey Buckingham via Sly Stone tongue-in-cheek clarion call of “On the Line” is a jolt of sublime strangeness while “Stitchwork’s” textile loving metaphor wears its complexity lightly and is flat out dazzling, right up to the hilarious bathos of it’s ‘tragic’ ending.

At its core this is experimental music, little of Jarvis’ approach is conventional as such, but the good news is that The Zug is never obtuse or a chore to listen to, instead there’s a lightness of touch and liquid grace on display throughout. Lyrically these are finely detailed idiosyncratic songs, full of snatched observations and whispered asides, as if someone is working through thoughts in their head in an attempt to create sense and order as well as to find some much needed humour amongst the confusion.

Yves Jarvis’ music may be playful but don’t underestimate the seemingly casual sophistication and murmured understatement, remember, it’s the quiet ones you need to pay attention to.

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