Yves Jarvis's Intrepid Tunes Hit Turbulence on 'The Zug'

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished May 13, 2022

Over the past few years, Yves Jarvis has entered a fruitful creative phase. Releasing three LPs since 2019 (one a collaboration with Tasseomancy's Romy Lightman), the Calgary-raised musician has only become more audacious and expressive. But The Zug, Jarvis's fifth full-length, raises an important question: has his quest to sound exploratory affected his ability to connect with the listener?
Across 14 tracks, much of The Zug seemingly jams too many ideas into its scant 32 minutes, without locking down a single one. Nonetheless, Jarvis provides the listener with a handful of moments across the album to embrace. The delightfully ramshackle "Enemy" features an airy synth over murmured vocals, while the crystalline, double-tracked musings of "Stitchwork" flow effortlessly through distinguishing modes. Highlight "Endless Tube" is a fluttering and airy acoustic-electronic composition that finds him joyously delving into intricate emotion.
Beyond these aforementioned tracks, which most resemble the dreamy sounds of his recent celebrated LPs (2019's The Same but by Different Means and 2020's Sundry Rock Song Stock), a large portion of The Zug comes off unfinished and patchy. "At the Whims" breaks the album open with perfectly dusty phrasings, before ostensibly ditching the concept for lopped musical avenues that wander from the song's ghostly synth lines. "You Offer a Mile" utilizes an eccentric, skittering melody and crashing rhythms that unfortunately come off more Primus than they do Tom Waits.
The rubbery spectacle of "Gestalt" expertly messes with rhythm and tone, but manages to completely wear out its welcome a quarter into its two-minute runtime. Mid-LP tracks, like the soundly built junkyard pulses of "Thrust" and the rising and tumbling cadence of "What," add some respite to the set, as they merge jittery rhythms with soulful vocals and expanding sound structures. But they nonetheless struggle to reach their respective ends, not unlike how the choral energy of "On the Line" and the thumping, wandering march of "Projection" never seem to keep focus long enough to make a lasting impact.
The Zug is largely uneven because of Jarvis's penchant for challenging song structures and overreaching sonics, and his reluctance to flesh these ideas out. He simply picked the wrong time to become satisfied, as the album could benefit from a more focused approach.
(Flemish Eye Records)

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