Unknown Mortal Orchestra - ii - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - ii

by Steve Reynolds Rating:5 Release Date:2013-02-11

I've not had the chance to really delve into Unknown Mortal Orchestra but from what I have read they set a high watermark on their self-titled debut in 2011. Lead by singer, guitarist and songwriter Ruban Nielson (formely of The Mint Chicks), this now settled three-piece venture out again but this time but with a new label, magpie quirks Jagjaguwar records.

The opening bars of 'From the Sun', the Unknown Mortal Orchestra's newie ii has a thick redolence for Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles. However, they also have a penchant for another kind of psychedelia, insisting on zonked-out, stoned, acid-rock, as incandescent on 'One at a Time', where the jazz-funk arrangement and crammed guitar-licks flow into each other seamlessly, creating a slushy and crunchy piece of fantasy blues. Musically, ii is relatively upbeat but Nielson's lyrical content displays no correlation at all to the sounds around him. It's a balancing act of light and shade with dark lyrical content versus a loose hypnotic musical collective.

ii is a challenging listen and there is no question that there's ability within the band, but after five tracks it all sounds rather samey and yawnsome. The 60s vibe is relentless throughout and, rather than using their influences to inform their own sound, they seemed to have immersed themselves fully in far too many illegal highs to make a truly captivating follow-up to their debut. This is made more than apparent on the plodding 'Monki'. An album which promised much but delivered little, suffocated by self-indulgence and idiosyncrasy means a serious rethink before they go back to the studio for album number three.

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