Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love Review

The New Zealand/American psych-rock trio return with their third studio album titled Multi-Love and we’ve said so many times before, the second album is about setting the foundations of credibility after the first but the third is about going beyond that and being creative and making your mark. The fuzzed out Lo-fi of II from 2013 was a good follow-up to their self titled debut, but there’s plenty of Lo-fi psych floating around at the moment and it’s something that Ruban Nielson’s group had to shake up with Multi-Love.

The title track is wonderfully subtle and effortlessly smooth in it’s progression and melody. It is a lesson in swift and slick instrumental progressions from the minimalistic introduction with the organs in isolation with Ruban’s vocal; slightly wistful and fading, yet still with power and confidence behind it. The song then picks up the percussion and muted bass-line as the vocals rise in a controlled fashion, within the framework of the instrumentation. The song easily falls away into those sparse moments with the soft, warping guitars and the subtle tones from the vocals. It’s a song that defines versatility and control in how the shifts in the song remained relevant and made sense in relation to the rest of the track and was quite simply beautifully delivered and presented. ‘Ur Life One Night’ is deliberately less crisp in it’s production and the whole song is delivered through a divulging warp that highlights the songs depths, accentuating the heavy bass as the rest of the instrumentation clicks and snaps in it’s rhythm to make for a catchy and hook-laden track despite the blurring of the sound. Through this production filtration, the vocals rise through it to deliver the melodic latchings. It’s a track of dual quality and dual ability in delivering a rhythmic yet atmospherically challenging sound.

‘Can’t Keep Checking my Phone’ comes in with the groove laden hooks and the shimmering percussion and airy riffs whilst going on to bring forth electronica to enthuse the track and enhance the song’s hooks. At times it moves on from it’s mellow rhythm and has shades of a stylish dance track reminiscent of Hot Chip to form another dynamic track. ‘The World is Crowded’ continues this in a similar fashion, but with more clearer and spacious production. ‘Stage or Screen’ is a little more reflective of their previous body of work, but it still maintains the versatile production of the rest of the album as it moves in and out of focus and clarity to give a seemingly simple track more character and contemplative quality. ‘Puzzles provides a heavier variation on the album with the distortion stuffed riffs and grinding rhythm sections set around an otherwise spacious and minimalistic instrumentation. Tracks such as ‘Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty’ offer up a more breezy intersect amongst the heady and meandering styles and as an album Multi-Love has to be their best yet and shows Unknown Mortal Orchestra to be a band that has the potential for great versatility and dynamism amongst their sounds and the confidence to try out these variations within their tracks, nevermind their album. When this is coupled with the intelligent and wonderfully slick production, then there is very little critique you can throw their way.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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