It’s always so nice when a friend turns you on to an artist you had no idea existed. In the summer of 2015, I was at a party with my then fiancée hanging out with one of her old friends. Her friend Michelle had just started dating a nice dude named Kevin, who immediately proved his coolness and credibility to me as we shared DJ responsibilities for a smaller section of the party that wasn’t bumping Top 40 or abrasive rap, emo and EDM. One of the first songs Kevin showed me was “Indian Food” by the eccentric Italian indie band, Dumbo Gets Mad, and I was immediately hooked.
I liked the song “Indian Food” so much that I ended up downloading the entire record by Dumbo Gets Mad, which I was happy to find out is called “Quantum Leap”, the second full-length album from the Italian pysch-rock band. The group centers around the talents of Luca Bergomi and Carlotta Menozzi: a couple who truly look like stars and take refreshing risks. The music the couple makes together is playful as it is bold.
So the story goes, the band really took shape after the duo moved from Italy to L.A. Their male and female dynamic gives Dumbo Gets Mad a uniquely rounded sound that rides the voyeuristic musical adventures they create. I had never heard their first album “Elephants at the Door”, but as soon as I listened to “Quantum Leap” the entire way through I knew I was hearing something special.
The influences of this record are all over the map. In true psychedelic fashion, the album feels woven together by its songs and the fabric of the material comes from all over the world. There are clear Eastern influences, occasional rare instruments, a few samples and all sorts of songs. The beautifully blended vocals from Bergomi and Menozzi go perfectly with undeniable hooks played on expertly mixed guitar, bass, drums and a wide array of sunny synths. For fans of Tame Impala, Pink Floyd, the Flaming Lips or even Serge Gainsbourg, Dumbo Gets Mad are a treat for anyone into stellar-reaching music.
“Indian Food” is the second track on the record, starting first with a simple looped beat, followed by a delectable guitar line that ushers in live drums, bass and vocals. Before you know it, the album explodes in color, synths and chimes as layered rhythms and catchy melodies pull listeners into the fun. There are a lot of moving parts in Dumbo Gets Mad songs, but there are also many intriguing, unique moments.
Some of the songs on the album can have parts that feel like shout-along anthems while other songs have bits that feel like intimate reveries. The collage-style and mix-tape vibe helps the album flow pretty seamlessly. “Quantum Leap” sounds like a record that was lost to time, like it could have came from the past, present or future. The band has not stolen from any specific era, but they have pulled from so many ideas and influences that Dumbo Gets Mad effectively created their own style.
I can understand that this album might not be for everyone, as it is all over the place. But even despite its most experimental moments, there are songs that are truly irrefutable. “Crystal Balls On Roll (South Africa)” is a shining moment, with fluttering synths, harmonizing vocals, solid grooves and catchy 70s FM fuzz. There are flutes, harps, endless synths and there are Asian instruments most Americans don’t get enough exposure to. “American Day” is another dreamy escapade that highlights the band’s ability to make songs that will stick in your head.
“Bam Bam” is a catchy 60s-ish song that reminds me of MGMT’s more Scooby-Doo inspired songs and proves further still that DGM are not afraid to try anything. “Maleducato” is one of the more chill moments on the album, echoing loneliness with spacey synths that give way to hazy and hypnotizing South American-esque jazz with interesting percussion and smooth vibraphones. Dumbo Gets Mad fuse elements of pop, psychedelia, prog and indie to create songs that make an impression with the heart-felt ubiquity of their music.
The closer “Punch & Tea (with Venice)” finishes out the album on a blissful note, continuing the streak of beach ready tunes that share unique ideas in a fresh, fearless and free-wheeling way. Dumbo Gets Mad strike as the type of people who would stay at the beach even if it rained, and they would still have fun. If you are looking for the soundtrack to a good time, “Quantum Leap” is an enjoyable ride.
Genres: Psychedelic, Indie, Rock, Pop, Experimental.
Influences: MGMT, The Zombies, Beck, The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala
“Indian Food” – “Crystal Balls On Roll (South Africa)” – “American Day” – “Maleducato”
Article by Adam Fitzgerald.