The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘Multi-Love’ (Jagjaguwar)

Front cover of 'Multi-Love'

Front cover of ‘Multi-Love’

by Matthew Langham

The third release from the American-New Zealand group Unknown Mortal Orchestra marks a distinct shift in style in comparison to their guitar-driven debut and its follow-up II. As the album title suggests, the concept behind the record is that of relationships and their constant anxieties that can often unfold. The listener gets more of an insight into the mind of lead singer Ruban Nielson on this album and it’s daring in more ways than one. The lyrics are much more personal, and stylistically it moves towards a disco-orientated funk sound. Dare I say slightly like early Bee-Gees – ‘Ur Life One Night’ in particular. The move away from hazy psychedelic rock has taken a turn towards electronic pop and it doesn’t feel quite as compelling.

‘Can’t Keep Checking My Phone’ is a sort of Prince/Caribou stylistic mash-up driven by a bass groove and an electronic rhythm. It’s a throwback to bass-driven funk and is perfectly complimented by Nielson’s hazy vocals. ‘Extreme Wealth And Casual Cruelty’ is the most interesting track on the album. It sets itself apart from the rest of the pop-driven tracks by being the most avant-garde and unusual effort here. The almost beatnik, stream-of-consciousness vocal delivery and saxophone solos highlight that the band are willing to stretch their pop sound. ‘The World Is Crowded’ and ‘Stage Or Screen’ are perfect hits for the summer which extend on the hazy guitar sound which runs throughout the record. The rhythmic arrangement is particularly impressive and highlights Neilson’s talent for throwing together numerous genres and being able to successfully blend together a brilliant, original sound.

Whilst it probably isn’t as instantly memorable as their previous two albums, give Multi-Love a couple of listens and you will find that Unknown Mortal Orchestra are a band that are unafraid to experiment and take risks. This was a brave record, and one that could be the slow-burning, feel-good album of the summer. (7/10)

Listen to Multi-Love here!

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