Oliver Perry, the creative impetus and multi-instrumentalist behind impressionistic indie-pop outfit D.D Dumbo, is just as quirky as his debut album, Utopia Defeated. From taking ice-filled baths to running his recording studio on solar energy, Perry’s idiosyncrasy alone is something of a wonder, and perhaps a good starting place to help explain the complicated progressive nuances running through the album.
“It’s not arguing with regard to a specific message,” Says Perry in a recent interview for The Guardian, “It’s more a reaction to my confusion about lots of different things.” Indeed “these different things”, as he later elucidates, are a combination of environmental, philosophical and ethical concerns which act as the driving force behind Utopia Defeated.
The album evokes a vibrant mash-up of Yeasayer and early The Police, displaying Perry’s impressive sonic versatility; from the dreamy folk-like Toxic City to the explosive tenor of King Franco Picasso. The instruments are engineered to sound as alien as possible using pitch-shifting techniques and digital manipulation, giving Utopia Defeated a retro aesthetic – strangely at odds to Perry’s pertinent socially-charged message.
Some of the less pronounced songs on the album, such as The Day I First Found God and Cortisol (which questions the modern fascination for space exploration) don’t really introduce anything new to the experience as a whole. For instance, Cortisol, subtly repeats some audio tropes from a previous track, Satan. Although such stylistic repetition gives every track on the album a satisfying polish, as though each one has been prepared and placed exactly as Perry envisioned, it does feel as though once you’ve listened to half of Utopia Defeated you’ve pretty much heard it – the pitch-shifting and digital manipulation – all before.
Despite this, I didn’t find myself skipping any tracks. And here lies the true genius of the album: the catchy instrumental arrangements and Perry’s unique vocals, fused with his progressive message, carry Utopia Defeated from start to finish. The album’s opener, Walrus, takes implicit issue with foie gras production, whereas Toxic City rather more explicitly condemns humankind’s laissez-faire attitude towards the environment. Through Perry’s witty lyricism and catchy instrumental arrangements ecological forewarning has never sounded so uplifting.
What better way to broadcast your environmental manifesto than the medium of impressionistic indie-pop? Utopia Defeated successfully articulates Perry’s grievances with our reckless disregard both for the ecology and earth’s future, addressing rationality and ethics in a manner that’s both accessible and thought-provoking. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who’s a fan of the genre or intrigued by Perry’s distinctive foresight.