With the ring of a siren and the kick of a pedal, Dumbo Gets Mad’s debut album Elephants At The Door smothers listeners in a blanket of sounds ranging from psychedelic to hip-hop. The Los Angeles by way of Italy duo came together last year and released “Plumy Tail” as the album’s lead single, a mix of Thee Oh Sees’ psych carelessness and Peter Bjorn And John’s pop structure. It gathered plenty of critical acclaim, and rightfully so, as “Plumy Tail” immediately strikes the listener with high-pitched organ tones, a bellowing bass line that guides the track, and sexy guy-girl melodies. It leads to the makings of an accessible album, but Elephants At The Door is an album that grows over time as you notice various sounds and production tweaks upon each listen. And that is exactly what I love about it. What I initially found to be a fine and listenable album has slowly become one of my favorite releases of 2011.
On the Pink Floyd-esque “Why Try?,” there’s a distorted sense of laziness, a sound that is both inviting and surprisingly exciting. It’s the soundtrack for wandering aimlessly when there’s somewhere you should to be; the organ is dramatic and the maracas beat in pace with your steps, steering the listener in zig-zagging paths to nowhere. One of the album’s best tracks, “Marmelade Kids,” is an echoing and drift-less tune, the perfect example of Dumbo Gets Mad’s unique sound. The vocals are muted and distant, the drums are straight out of a Roots song, and the chorus explodes into pop bliss, fusing synths and heavy percussion. The ability to change pace and still sound coherent is what makes the album so satisfying. There’s never a dull moment, and yet Elephants At The Door is never overwhelming. If you’ve found yourself swooning over other California based psych-pop bands like Ty Segall or Sonny And The Sunsets (I know I have), you owe it to yourself to hear Elephants At The Door.