Surrealist-Pop Artist Oliver Tree Lays Down a New Album
If you’ve seen YouTube videos of Oliver Tree belting out his heavily produced, guttertronic, cyber-tinged, angsty, plaintive melodies while being decked inimically in sunglasses, oversized 90’s JNCO-style baggy jeans, and an Amish-anachronism perpetual-child-rage bowl cut, you may think he is a some kind of joke.
His new album Ugly is Beautiful is the lovingly crafted statement of a surrealist pop artist. It’s a statement that sets flame to expectations surrounding the ironic long-distance relationship between artist and fan in the age of internet celebrity via kidnapping Instagram pranks. After delaying his album in deference to the George Floyd protests, Tree is here with a bold message, declaring that artists have valid beef with the dismissive, 15-minutes-of-fame-then-fuck-you moment we’re living in.
Oliver Tree’s Look Can Be Deceiving
Beneath the catchy lyrics and hooks, there is some serious energy and danger potential. Dismiss this rude boy at your own peril.
Before you watch any of the videos for Ugly is Beautiful, do yourself a favor. For some context, seek out the video of Tree covering Radiohead’s Karma Police. Our boy gained some notoriety after receiving Thom Yorke’s permission to include that cover on his Demons EP. It is an artistic rendition with added lyrics and over-the-top bring down leveling.
Symbolism Hits as Hard as the Lyrics
The track suit and bowl cut, the obsession with flashy pop imagery, absurd vehicle crashes and tracking P.O.V. shots–the in-your-face weirdness is intentional here. Psychologist Eugen Bleuler made the case for symbolic language used without discipline, what he called “autistic thought,” tied to surrealist philosophy via the dream logic they both aver.
In surrealist philosophy, ‘If the senses completely approve an image, they kill it in the mind’.
But an artist like Tree does what he does consciously, and with ramification. Which is why, for his daring, and despite the fact that I want to see him do more material that has less attention paid to what people might think, my hands are tied and I am forced to give this work a 10 out of 10.
Best Oliver Tree Tracks:
Enjoy the tunes with a quote.
This place has only three exits, sir: Madness, and Death.