Yum-Yum was the short-lived project of Chris Holmes, a Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist who experimented in a variety of musical genres without ever settling for or excelling in any of them. Prior to forming Yum-Yum, of which he was the only constant member, Holmes had been the main songwriter for Sabalon Glitz, a second-string entry in the Chicago post-rock scene with a clear fascination for '70s Krautrock and the old TV series Doctor Who. Yum-Yum was entirely different; apparently inspired by chamber pop revivalists like Cardinal or the High Llamas, Holmes affected the look of a rather pretentious graduate student in English and began writing songs heavily indebted to the Beach Boys, Nick Drake, and Belle & Sebastian, without the tune-making ability of the first two, but with all the irritating preciousness of the last. He played live with a string section and a French horn player.
Yum-Yum was signed by Atlantic's short-lived Tag Records imprint in late 1995. The Yum-Yum album, 1996's Dan Loves Patti, was recorded with Chicago mainstay David Trumfio (the Pulsars) at the controls, and was the object of an enormous promotional blitz upon its spring 1996 release. Fewer than 10,000 copies sold; Holmes was dropped by Atlantic and Yum-Yum dissolved. Holmes then jumped on the techno bandwagon, forming the electronica act Ashtar Command. Normally, the story would have ended right there, but in March 1998, Holmes' childhood friend and former roommate Thomas Frank wrote a ten-page article about Yum-Yum for Harper's Magazine, in which Holmes claimed that Yum-Yum was meant as both an ironic joke and a deliberate attempt to create a subtly mocking commercial powerhouse. (This would be a misguided attempt if true; chamber pop never did fly off the shelves.) Now, if Holmes had created a tricky, discursive parody of the Backstreet Boys.... This after-the-fact revisionism didn't catch on, as many other folks related to the project disputed the idea that Holmes was anything but sincere in his wish to make the big time, but the fact remains that Yum-Yum, no matter what the intention, was never destined to be anything more than a pleasant footnote to a quickly forgotten subgenre of mid-'90s indie pop. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi