Even though I have been looping D. D. Dumbo’s single, Satan, for the whole second half of 2016, I have never heard anything like Utopia Defeated in my life. I struggle to imagine anyone disliking this album, D.D Dumbo’s debut. I want to say it has something for everyone, but had I not heard this album and was coming into this review cold, a phrase like ‘something for everyone’ would have made me sceptical. See, that particular phrase is bandied about so freely. But take my word for it: this album really does have something for everyone.
If my earnestness from the paragraph before this has been enough to convince you to give this album a spin, my job is done. I’m sure the album will do a far better job of convincing you within the first fifteen seconds than any of my writing will. But if you’re still reading on, sceptical, let me tell you why this album makes my job remarkably difficult.
I want to convince you this is a great album. For that, it’s usually best to fall back on comparables, which for an album such as this is so difficult to do. On the one hand there’s the obvious world music influences, but to call Utopia Defeated world music would do it a great disservice (just as calling ever Goat album world music does that band a great deal of disservice). On the other hand there’s the obvious pop sensibility that underscores every song on the album. In that way, I see a fair comparison to one of my musical heroes, Talking Heads, who melded pop, world music, and everything else into this genre-of-one-band sound.
So, instead of struggling to find comparables, I will resort to metaphor. Listening to Utopia Defeated often feels like a vacation in the hills — by day you stand in the middle of what seems like nowhere, arms outstretched, your face bathed in cold air and the warm sun; by night, you descend into a hill town, walking its streets, weaving through markets, cafes, and pubs. This album is hill and valley, night and day, cold and warm. It isn’t just an exaggeration of a portion of the human experience, but a meditation on the entirety of it. By the end of my first listen, I found myself feeling like I had just travelled to the hills and back, like I had been on a thirty-seven minute vacation. If that doesn’t convince you to give it a shot, I don’t know what will.
(Listen to the album whenever, wherever, however. It’s really really good.)