For nearly a decade now, Noah Kardos-Fein has been making post-industrial / neo-no wave music under the name YVETTE, building a distinct and arresting repertoire along the way. To fully appreciate YVETTE’s latest release How The Garden Grows is to place it in context of the journey charted by Kardos-Fein.
In 2012, Kardos-Fein and drummer Rick Daniel recorded a two song 7” with Nick Sylvester, which sparked the launch of renowned label Godmode (JPEGMAFIA, Yaeji, Shamir, Channel Tres). A year later, YVETTE released its debut full length PROCESS to widespread critical acclaim. Pitchfork declared in its 8.1/10 review, “They’re an industrial act in the truest sense of the term, transforming scabrous raw materials into beautiful, glistening, chrome-plated objects that cast an uncanny allure. Theirs is a noise molded into the contours—if not the sound—of pop music, offering an accessible entry point into a world of ugly brutalism.”
Following the release of PROCESS, and a reissue in Europe by Tough Love Records (Ulrika Spacek, Big Ups, Moon King), Dale Eisinger took over on drums. After an extended round of touring, YVETTE released the Time Management EP in 2015. The band earned a reputation for bewildering, powerful live performances and shared the stage with acts like Sleigh Bells, Xiu Xiu, Lydia Lunch, Dan Deacon, Thurston Moore, Liars, Metz, and Liturgy.
In 2016, with a chance to catch their breath, the duo began work on what would become their highly anticipated sophomore album How The Garden Grows. It took three years of stops and starts – multiple studios and different producers and engineers – to write and record. All the while, the duo watched developers raze many of its favorite NYC venues and haunts. Rather than disappearing into the rubble of its beloved city, How The Garden Grows grew out of that chaos.
The album, now seeing the light of day in 2021, is the culmination of years of hard work, and countless obstacles. It marks a period of significant growth and change: not just within the band, but also in the musicians’ personal lives, the world of New York experimental/DIY music, national politics, and an increasingly globalized world. And it reveals a band carving paths into a new realm of experimentation, in terms of both songwriting and technical approach. It also marks the departure of Eisinger, which effectively turned YVETTE into a solo act.
How The Garden Grows is an intense, kinetic space where animosity is soothed by moments of beauty, and beauty is sharpened into a metallic spearpoint by animosity. “I wanted to see what new limits I could push myself and my instruments to,” Kardos-Fein explains. “I wanted to see how closely I might be able to capture to tape the physicality of a live experience with the clarity of a studio recording.”
“B61” opens the album with two minutes of spacious clattering atop a nauseous hum, the harmony of which becomes clear when Kardos-Fein’s voice bubbles to the surface. His delivery starts out glassy and melodic only to boil over into a scream midway through the track, creating one of the most aggressive moments on an already aggressive offering. By the song’s end, the mood is complete panic, with Kardos-Fein’s guitar-controlled synthesizer evoking distorted alarms, as if to emphasize the apocalyptic imagery of his lyrics.
Songs like “Besides” and “For A Moment” march with a similarly anxious momentum of double-timed rhythms and overdriven textures, but here they serve a more discernible pop framework, highlighting YVETTE’s acute sense of songcraft.
For all of its energy, the album concludes with eight minutes of beat-less atmosphere in the form of “Intermission,” a reflective piece of inertia that serves to contrast the utter dismay that precedes it. It’s the only track that Kardos-Fein performed by himself, a droning, improvisational piece he recorded when everyone else had left the room. One of the last things you hear, accidentally picked up by the mic as the instrumental drifts into oblivion, is the sound of his bandmate opening and closing the studio door, leaving Kardos-Fein to carry on as YVETTE alone. It’s a surprisingly prescient sonic farewell for an intensely unconventional album. The droning fades, and the listener is left feeling slightly uneasy, wondering what comes next.
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This sounds like it could have been released in any of the last 5-6 decades. Solid, tight songs that warm the soul. I’m picking up on a wide diversity of sounds, from The Pixies to Blondie. Really glad to have stumbled across these guys! Mister Anthrope