Thursday, December 15, 2011

REVIEW-SMITH: DANCE PARTY, a review of Dumbo Gets Mad’s Elephants At The Door

First things first: I’d like to thank the ever entertaining and insightful Anthony Fantano at The Needle Drop for vloging[i] a great review on this album[ii]. I’ve decided to take my own stab at this underground artist.

Secondly, the album is free[iii]. Listen to it, y’all!

Now the review. . . picture this: You are at a party where everyone is antsy to get their dance on, the lights are turned on a little too dimly, and everyone is more than a little high or drunk. Then add this to the equation—there is a rumor that the Flaming Lips are going to show up at this house party and trippily tear the roof of the joint. Wow. Holy shit.

But guess what, they don’t show. Damn. Instead, Dumbo Gets Mad takes the shoddily made stage that is just a glorified elevated floor.

Don’t be disappointed. Now, Dumbo Gets Mad wear their influences on its sleeve. There is some Doors action, some Pink Floyd. The biggest influence that comes through bleeds on every song, though—The Flaming Lips. Now, this is not a bad thing. It is not so much of Dumbo Gets Mad ripping off the Flaming Lips, though I can hear a lot of these songs appearing on Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and the like, but what I would say is that if you have a Flaming Lips fanboy/girl as a friend, this is most definitely an album to send their way. Invite them to the party.

Catchy organ, reminiscent of an old lady playing an organ at church, opens the Elephants At The Door on the intro track, “Limbo’s Village.” “Plumy Tale” transforms that sound into a Doorsesque organ and the party begins. The track is infectious, and is certainly one of the strongest sounds on the album. Everyone at the party is bought over now (or never, truly) and nearly everyone begins dancing. There are people swaying their bodies in beautiful, herky-jerky motions, and people just bobbing their heads, but everyone contains movement.

“Marmelade Kids” and “Sleeping Over” are Dumbo Gets Mad’s “In The Morning of the Magicians[iv]” in a way, though simultaneously, they are completely original. The bass lines are sexy—the walking bass lines remind of other bands while still acting on their own. The altered vocals on “Sleeping Over” work, though their high-pitched quality is quite odd. A lot of songs on this album are odd in that way. They are meant for the background of some bitching party, our bitching party, where no one knows the songs, but we dance nonetheless, in slow motion. “Sleeping Over” is a prime example of a soundtrack our freak out.

“Harmony” jaunts along like with classic rock swag. Another track from an album I will review soon (“Gratisfaction” on Angles by The Strokes) has this same late 70s, early 80s confidence that rock music oozed out. This is not a bad thing. With the blippy synth and the ambient wooshing, and the great building vocal delivery, ended with that yelp, “Harmony” is a great moment and a memorable one. Unfortunately, the tempo slows down on “Why Try?” with its 1950s pop guitar strumming. It is a fine track, but a little out of place when it comes to sequencing the tracks. “Why Try?” is saved by a great sing along moment. We all being to rest our bodies now.

“Eclectic Prawn” contains the same swagger of “Harmony,” infused with some upbeat drumming and appropriately quirky synths. The moment the breakdowns/instrumental chorus kicks in is absolutely, even given all the great moments on the album, my favorite. It remains with you even after the song goes back into the verses and continues into “Self-esteem.” “Self-esteem,” from a production standpoint, sounds as if it would fit on Yoshimi. The 80s hip-hop synth gives the track its own personality, as Dumbo Gets Mad always seems to succeed at—teasing you with sonic references only to remind you that this isn’t the latest Flaming Lips. This is fucking Dumbo Gets Mad, and be glad. The song courses itself with a great synth jam that plays on the phrases you hear early in its nearly five-and-a-half minute runtime.

The dance party finds itself in “Raymond Play” next, with its circusy sounding videogame synths. Vocals that are drunkenly discordant and most definitely sing-along material work well for the party, and no one loses interest. Album-closer “You Make You Feel” percussion carries it along as some of the most natural sounding vocals appear. There is emotion, some great brass instrumentation, and a never-ending groove that caries the track into its final seconds.

The party is over, and the band has left the stage, taking their equipment with them, leaving a bunch of still-able dancers behind. We don’t want it to end. We’d prefer if we could just hit replay. 

Oh wait, we can.

Review-smith gives Elephants At The Door 10 Replays Throughout the Night For Our Freak-Out Party.


[i] Oh, new internet verbiage.

[iv] Flaming Lips.

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