#Review: Oliver Tree – Ugly Is Beautiful

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerOliver Tree is one of those artists it’s hard to define. Whilst there are some who insist that he is nothing more than an internet meme, his artistry is undeniable and there’s something instantly captivating about him. Having released a heap of singles since signing to Atlantic Records in 2017, it’s only now, in 2020, we’re seeing the release of his debut album, Ugly Is Beautiful. Here’s what we have to say about it…

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Ugly Is Beautiful is the first full-length release from Oliver Tree, who announced his early retirement in March 2020 – only to return in May with the announcement of his debut record, after a hacker held Oliver hostage in exchange for 1 million Instagram likes (which he logged in under 24 hours).

Having already been delayed twice (once due to Covid-19 and once due to the George Floyd and anti-racism protests), this highly-anticipated debut album proves to be worth the wait. Whilst his appearance, to some, is outlandish, this internet personality, musician and filmmaker has made a genre-defying record if ever there was one. Right from the off, Oliver Tree makes his way through a wide variety of genres, from alternative indie rock to hip hop and pop punk to electronic with a great sense of conviction that is nothing short of highly infectious.

One thing that is incredibly impressive about Tree, throughout the album, is his ability to ensure the listener doesn’t take any one moment too seriously or equally to pass it off as a joke either, using lyrical whit to guide the way. One such track is ‘Joke’s On You!’ where Tree makes his feelings known in the line, “Well yes in fact, my dignity’s intact, while I listen to ‘em laugh,” – here he is obviously making light of the fact that people often see him as a joke yet he’s made something of himself and maintained his dignity in doing so.

There is definitely a sense of nostalgia about Ugly Is Beautiful.

One of my favourite tracks has to be the distortion-heavy, electronic-laiden ‘1993’ (featuring Little Ricky ZR3), which was an instant favourite for me as it sort of epitomises much of the album. He uses tasteful electronic elements alongside intentional distortion giving it a real grungy, edgy feel – like much of the record. ‘Again & Again’ is another track that uses those gritty, distorted vocal effects but it equally has a certain radio-like quality to it, due to its indie-rock vibes.

There is definitely a sense of nostalgia throughout Ugly Is Beautiful too with tracks like ‘Jerk’ reminiscing of a down-tempo Nirvana song, ‘Bury Me Alive’ with its quick-fire delivery, like that of a Beastie Boys track or the David Bowie-esque qualities of ‘Miracle Man’.

However, the only time Tree feels truly familiar is on his previously-released singles, ‘Let Me Down’‘Alien Boy’ and ‘Hurt’, whilst the rest of the record feels new, exciting and refreshingly undefinable. This is a vision that is truly unique and entirely his – this is less an act and more of a glimour into the world of Tree, through his eyes.

Although Tree insists this is his “magnum opus” and that he is to retire from music and focus on film-making and producing instead, his label (Atlantic Records) say, “Ugly Is Beautiful is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more from Oliver Tree.” So I guess we will just have to wait and see! Either way, it would be a real shame if this were to be all we hear from him again.


‘Ugly Is Beautiful’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/ugly-is-beautiful/1514394064

Ugly Is Beautiful on Spotify

Hurt (Official Music Video)

Let Me Down (Official Music Video)

Bury Me Alive (Official Unofficial Music Video)

We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Oliver Tree’s debut album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.

Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews

Matt – Muzik Speaks

#WildCardWednesday: Firing All Cylinders – ‘What Is Love’ (Haddaway Cover)

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I am a huge sucker for 90s dance classics, so when I saw that Firing All Cylinders had done a metal version of ‘What Is Love’ by Haddaway, I was all ears. The Californian metallers toyed with the idea that initially started as a joke but we are happy they went with it!

If you don’t know the song by title, you will certainly know it by its opening synth hook. ‘What Is Love’ charted across the world in 1993, but by no means set it on fire, however, it has become a cult classic along 90s music fans. Firing All Cylinders have kept the essence of the track by keeping that oh so recognisable synth motif almost exactly as it sounds on the original, but have brought their own metal chug and groove underneath.

Personally I love it, but I know it will divide a lot of people. It’s not the first time we’ve seen metal bands do this to beloved pop songs, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. 90s dance just seems to lend itself well to this kind of thing. However unlike others, I feel the band have not strayed too far away from the original that it is not recognisable. There are no heavy breakdowns, no guttural screams just a homage to a classic.

The video really stretches the idea of what love is. The original video had a slight dark feel to it (for the 90s anyway), but Firing All Cylinders have taken it about 1,000 steps further. It’s dark, it’s ritualistic and involves sacrifice and is probably more what fans of the band would expect.

We aren’t too fussed by the video, but the track is definitely worth a listen for all you 90s dance cross metal fans out there!

What are your thoughts of this metal band’s cover of the 90s dance classic? Do you have a cool cover for #WildCardWednesday to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Rob Manhire

‘What Is Love’ can be downloaded off Apple Music now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/what-is-love-single/1505584706

#ThrowbackThursday: Meat Loaf – ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’

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This is such a classic Meat Loaf track, released back in 1993! ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ is a 12-minute progressive rock song (in full – the video is shorter), featuring vocals by both Meat Loaf (aka Michael Lee Aday) and Lorraine Crosby, however, she was not credited in the album notes or in fact even in the video.

Dana Patrick was the lip-syncher in the music video for the song and played the ‘beauty’ in the sort of retelling of ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

The song, which was penned by Jim Steinman (as with many other Meat Loaf tracks), reached Number 1 in the UK charts and is still an amazing track today.

Are you a Meat Loaf fan? Would you have chosen a different one of his tracks? Please share your #ThrowbackThursday tracks in a comment below of on Facebook/Twitter.

Matt – Muzik Speaks

‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ is available for download from iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bat-out-hell-ii-back-into/id724203467