Despite its praise for a Lord who does not consume, Yves Tumor’s latest album consumes audiences with its unconventional redefinition of sound.
Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) marks the experimental, Tennessee-raised queer artist’s fifth major studio album. Yet, this project stands solo from its predecessors with unabashed intimacy. Released March 17, Tumor’s hymn-like cacophonies culminate in a reflective narrative that dances on a tightrope between sacrilege and piety. This isn’t an album for the type As of the world. It’s fiery, fast-paced and, most times, chaotic — blink and it’s over. Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume harnesses spiritual imagery and post-punk whispers to narrate Tumor’s sexuality, self-discovery and poeticism, making this an introspective undertaking quintessential to his discography.
As Tumor stands alone against a blurred background on the album cover, his meaning becomes clear: this is an art of the self. With his most personal project yet, Tumor brings listeners back to the beginning in “Heaven Surrounds Us Like a Hood.” He pays homage to his younger self with scattered recordings of children’s voices, echoey vocals and sharp-edged synth inflections. The track even follows a childlike format in its chaos: Tumor lets his inner child run rampant in waves of intense rock solos playfully interrupted by instrumental stillness. Paired with mature identity crises in the ballad “Parody,” he creates an album imbued with his journey.
Tumor’s album mobilizes divine inspiration. Titles such as “Fear Evil Like Fire” and “God Is a Circle,” intertwined with lyrics such as, “She looked just like a god,” send spirituality coursing to the beating heart of his work. Instrumental breaks throughout the album, such as “Interlude” — a choir-like piece of hypnotizing layered vocals — recall days sitting in church pews.
Even his lyrics follow an incanting rhythm most noticeable in “Echolalia.” With airy vocals and repetitive hypnotic lyricism sung in transcendent monotone, it’s reminiscent of prayer. Yet, it walks a fine line between blasphemy and devotion. Apart from describing an overtly sexual scene, the entire song is orgasmic: gasping vocals, throat catches and a fast-paced rush to its climax. Tumor’s heavily seductive persona is no surprise, in fact, it’s his trademark. Yet, there lies only playful irony, not religious discreditation, in his association with a dogma that generally suppresses sexuality.
As a Black queer creative growing up among noninclusive religious institutions, Tumor heavily emphasizes this conflict throughout the album. His opening track, “God Is a Circle,” begins with a scream and rapid breathing, placing audiences within his mind that prays to be freed from preconceptions. His lyrics are spartan yet deeply intimate; a sermon on personal aimlessness. The song races along with synth instrumentals as Tumor yearns to find his spiritual place.
Meanwhile, in “Lovely Sewer,” distant and dreamy vocals situate listeners in young queer love — a contradiction amongst religious imagery. Its jaunty repetition mimics adolescent flirting, deceptively simple amid the darker themes. This dichotomy is best conveyed in the orgasmic sacredness of “Echolalia”: chaotic sensualism is Bible.
Though his album gives a distinctive take on the self within spirituality, it’s unoriginal for Tumor. He’s done the Biblical imagery; among other sacredly tinted projects, his last album was titled Heaven to a Tortured World. So, although this album stands slightly independent with its personal edge, it generally falls into the realm of his past work. Tumor bit off more than he could chew in his praise of a lord who does so.
This being said, he redeems himself with a fresh post-punk sound that weaves itself into the album’s fabric. To escape childhood conservatism, Tumor ensures that his music is anything but. His instrumentals show genre-typical characteristics with a twist: distorted rock solos layered with heavy synth, fast tempos suspended by slow melodic lamentations and simple songs augmented by poetic lyricism. “Operator” is the best example. Its fried and whiney vocals, cacophonic guitar solos and arbitrary exclamations leap out of 21st-century pop into 1980s punk.
Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume demands discussion. It assumes the role of divine creator yet concedes an interpretive power to the audience. However, Tumor preserves one truth from further exegesis: his self remains more powerful than any deity.