UMO’s third album is their most cohesive and personal, shock eh?
On 2011’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra and 2013 II saw the band write in a psychedelic indie pop vein, now they’ve embraced soul and funk, while keeping elements of their psych past to create their most personal album to date. This slight change in sound is beneficial to the songs as, sadly for main man Ruban Nielson, the songs are about loss and heartache. But when are they not though?
“The writing on this album was more abstract” Nielson said recently, but not abstract in an unlistenable way. Multi-Love is insanely catchy and after a few listens it feels better than your favourite jeans after a wash. Opening, and title track Multi-Love doesn’t start with a wall of psych exploration, but with a simple riff and Nielson’s vocals, its only later that things start to get woozey and murky. Like Acid Rain is a straight up soul funk classic. Sounding like Jamie Lidell covering Prince covering Sly Stone UMO are locked in the groove. Can’t Keep Checking My Phone sees guitars duel with horns until the synths and drums kick in; all back up by an animated and effervescent bassline.
“It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artist is today, a curator. Our society wants to curate and consume” Nielson has said “I wanted to be the guy behind the scenes, to demonstrate multiple skills and make it transparent” Multi-Love has transparency in abundance. At times it’s hard to see where Nielson’s playing ends and the other musicians on the album start.
This considered the stand out moment is final track Puzzles. It appears that he’s had enough covering his tracks through layers of production, and decided to let it all hang out. The beat sounds slightly chopped and compressed, but by the time the chorus kicks in you can’t even hear it over a maelstrom of vocals and guitars all fighting for your attention. The outro makes his stripped acoustic guitar sound like a sitar, until it ends fading out unassumingly. But that’s the story of the album. Every track is subtle, unassuming but totally in your face at the same time. So far it’s taken two years per UMO album, so see you in 2017 then Ruben, yeah?