DPR IAN – ‘Moodswings In This Order (MITO)’ EP review: a soul-baring and cathartic debut

For his first-ever solo project, the former K-pop idol bravely wears his heart on his sleeve to unveil a vulnerable artist with potential

“For the longest time, I felt like I had somebody else inside me. It just felt like a complete opposite world in which I was living in,” DPR IAN said in Memories In Disorder, a short film documenting the process of his debut EP. “My whole life I battled with this other individual until I finally decided to make him come to life.”

IAN’s courage to bare his soul pays off on his new emotional record ‘Moodswings In This Order’, otherwise titled ‘MITO’. His first-ever musical project since leaving the K-pop boy group C-Clown in 2015, ‘MITO’ is filled with eight tracks that invite listeners on a rollercoaster journey through the singer’s clouded mind.

In the last few years, he has (unintentionally or not) forged himself an image as the enigmatic creative director of the Korean hip-hop collective Dream Perfect Regime, working behind-the-scenes for some of Korea’s biggest R&B/rap stars like Mino and iKON’s Bobby. A quick glance at IAN’s social media profiles and it’s cluttered with charismatic photos and videos of the former idol jamming in the studio or cruising on his motorcycle. He has built an identity based on this ultimate bad boy persona, but his debut EP shatters that illusion to reveal an artist who – underneath all that leather jacket, tattoos and smoke – is riddled with anxiety, doubt and fear.

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On ‘MITO’, IAN wrangles his pain through modern R&B anthems. It opens with the epic title track, a cinematic two-minute battle cry that sets the mood for the rest of the record. It’s haunting and grim, an early reminder that the EP draws most of its powers from heartbreak. But it doesn’t mean that all the songs on the project are distinctly moody or pessimistic. ‘So Beautiful’ is an addictive spaghetti Western-inspired jam while the guitar-pop ‘Nerves’ shows off IAN’s rockstar potential (though it sorely misses a chance to really take off).

However when he gets vulnerable, IAN doesn’t mince his words. “Why does no one understand / When I say I am just afraid,” he wonders on the confessional ‘Scaredy Cat’. “Why does no one lend a hand / When I say I will drift away.” His unguarded emotions are also sprawled across ‘Dope Lovers’, a hypnotic examination between romantic and self relationships.

But ‘MITO’ isn’t simply just DPR IAN’s inner demons personified – it’s also a cathartic release for the singer who has decided that he’s got nothing left to hide. “I tell myself to let go of the pain / So sick of keeping it all in,” he murmurs on ‘Welcome To The Show’ before letting out a defiant wail, “I just want you to close all the doors / Just leave me alone.” Later on the closing song ‘No Silhouettes’, DPR IAN finally learns to let go in order to regain himself: “I lost myself under the sun / I got too close / And now I’m burning.”

Once you get past the occasional clumsy lyric (“I love it how you think I’m always this cool / Excusez-moi, I think I’m just a fool,” IAN sings on ‘No Blueberries’), ‘MITO’ is actually a well thought out concept that isn’t too overly ambitious. It excels in where it’s supposed to and leaves enough room for the singer to improve on on his next project.

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Now that he’s finally in front of the camera and not behind it, DPR IAN is carving out a space for himself in the R&B world, and the mark that he’s about to leave on the scene won’t make him go unnoticed.

Details

DPR IAN MITO EP cover art
  • Release date: March 12
  • Record label: Dream Perfect Regime
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