Every artist has a specialty– they know what they are good at, what they are interested in, and they do their best to give us their own spin on it. DPR Ian is no different: his releases thus far have all fallen under the R&B genre, as seen with his first album, Moodswings In This Order, and his new album that acts as a prequel, Moodswings In To Order, or MIITO, as fans call it. MIITO serves as an exploration of Mito’s – the protagonist in the first album, also known as an angel attempting to crawl out of darkness – creator, otherwise known as Mr. Insanity, who is also given a track on the album.
Both albums are a soulful deep dive into DPR Ian’s fears, his highs and lows, as well as an insight into how he lives with bipolar disorder. Conceptually, both albums are very strong, and Moodswings In This Order was very well executed. However, with MIITO, some of the tracks begin to blend together, subsequently becoming forgettable. It is entirely possible that this was the intention behind placing these tracks one after another, but if a casual listener had picked up this album without knowing the context behind these albums, they probably would not pay much attention to those tracks.
The album opens with “Seraph”, a beautiful string piece mixed with synths, and with the repetition of the line “I set my wings on fire”, it creates an atmosphere that one is being freed from their shackles. There is also a “heavenly” and “divine” energy that surges through the track, which is mainly emphasised through the use of strings, and it ties in with the title of the track, “Seraph”, which means the angels. It is a beautiful piece to open the album with, to pull the listener into this mystical world and allow themselves to go on a journey through DPR Ian’s mind.
One thing that this album does well is that each song seamlessly transitions into the next, and it allows for better storytelling without disrupting the overall listening experience. However, it does prove to be a bit of a setback, especially in the first half of MIITO, because “1 Shot”, “Mood”, “Avalon”, and “Miss Understood” start to blend together to become one very long song. This is where DPR Ian’s weakness as an artist starts to show. Most soloists do stick to one genre, but they usually manage to add their own spin on it and create distinct and unique tracks in the process.
Unfortunately, DPR Ian is still in the process of developing his sound and creating tracks that are fresh and unique, which is why the first half of MIITO ends up blending together into one long R&B, synth and electronica track. Not to say that the songs are bad, but it is disappointing, especially when the second half of MIITO introduces us to distinctively different tracks for Ian while continuing to fall under the genre of R&B.
We reach a turning point with “Merry Go”. Although the first verse is tonally similar to the previous tracks, it ultimately breaks out of its mold with the chorus. It is cathartic, liberating, and freeing, which is very ironic for a song about coming back to the same place every time. This energy continues throughout the rest of the album, giving us an upbeat dance track with “Calico”, a bright retro sound as seen in “Mr Insanity”, and emo pop rock infused into R&B with “Ballroom Extravaganza”.
The album ends with “Sometimes I’m”, which seems out of place as it feels more subdued in terms of sound. The monotonous chorus gives us a “couldn’t-care-less” attitude, and for it to immediately follow “Ballroom Extravaganza” results in a drop in energy, but in the best way possible. Considering the fact that MIITO is meant to be a reflection of DPR Ian’s mental health journey, this sudden change in attitude accurately represents the various highs and lows that one can go through.
Like the album title says, the listeners experience the way his mood swings from happy to sad to anger and to indifference. The first half of MIITO feels like a build up towards an explosion, and it is countered by rage, sadness, and bittersweet happiness, only for all of it to just drop to indifference. “Sometimes I’m” is the second shortest track in the album, next to “Seraph”, and while “Seraph” creates a slower-paced environment through its use of strings, “Sometimes I’m” uses synths to get through the song as quickly as possible.
Moodswings In To Order further explores DPR Ian’s emotions and mentality, as well as the battle within himself. It is poetic and conceptually strong, but unfortunately some of the tracks fall flat as he continues to further develop his style and sound as a soloist. With time, DPR Ian will be able to push out music that is both conceptually sound and well-executed. Regardless of its shortcomings, MIITO is still a strong album with great concepts, and it definitely warrants a listen.