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Review: Utopia Park – Utopia Park

By Max Johnson

Utopia Park is an electronic-punk band from Fairfield, Iowa. The band is composed of Dominic and Philip Rabalais, who are the two most sincere and genuine human beings on the face of the Earth. There. That should be enough for you to listen to them. But if you aren’t convinced…

The songs on Utopia Park’s self-titled EP build toward epiphanies, but at the same time, they work as a regression from, not a progression towards, complexity. Vocals go from simply shouted to non-verbal screaming. Instruments pile on top of each other until you’re convinced you heard a steel drum or a trombone somewhere amidst the noise vaguely resembling a guitar. If all artists fall on to a continuum between “intellectual” and “intuitive” (forgive the clearly false binary I’ve created here), Utopia Park is about as intuitive as you can get. They’re like animals attacking guitars and keyboards, right in the thick of the Id, all fight or flight.

The first moments of Utopia Park’s self-titled EP are a found recording of a man explaining part of the 2012 Doomsday “Theory.” Although the songs never actually explore the end of the world, and they never sound particularly apocalyptic (the one exception maybe being the weird cover of The Misfits’ “Skulls”), the recording hangs over the songs like a sword.

“So Long Silly Rabbit” details the narrator running away and “never comin’ back.” “Make It Growl” features stuttering synths, like the beginning of a caffeine high, soon turns into a standard 4/4, and then a minute into the song, shifts into double time. Two minutes later, after a quick break featuring horns, and they’re right back at break-neck speed, because, hey, why not? The EP is even released exclusively as a cassette tape, packaged with the romanticism of it, the slow decay of tape as it loops its way around the plastic forever and ever and ever, like an omen.

The urge to move forward, to find something new and novel, to survive in the wild — to do it all as fast as possible is at the heart of Utopia Park’s music. Because what if that recording is correct, and the world really is going to end in 2012? And what if you only have another year and a half before it’s all over? What can you do in that time? What do you do?

Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Anything.

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