This ‘Unknown Mortal Orchestra’ review was written by Alex Whitaker, a GIGsoup contributor.
Ruban Nielson’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra are back with their 3rd studio album and it’s very much a case of “the same again, please” with their latest effort Multi-Love. The record was inspired by the three-way relationship Nielson and his wife have recently found themselves in with another woman (oh how very avant-garde) and although this may have added some spice to his marriage, the same cannot be said of the band’s latest release.
Listening to a record should submerge you and take you on a journey, or at very least inspire you. This record lingers on the edge of doing so. Not to suggest that Multi-Love is a sub-par record but it certainlydisplays a lack of ambition from the Aussie trio- they played it safe. Much like their first two albums Multi-Love is tinged with 60s psychedelia and the falsetto voice of Nielson with little variance and a somewhat monotonous progression. But it must be said, and this is not a sentence I thought I would ever have to type, the distinguishable injection of 70s Disco into Multi-Love has helped Nielson et al maintain the quirky and endearing qualities of their music.
The opening title track Multi-Love just so happens to be the best track on the album, and unsurprisingly their first release from this record. It’s an instant electro-pop classic. The exquisite drumming of Riley Geare take this number from being just another “here today, gone tomorrow” hit to a comfortable 2015 classic. The lyrics display the morally questionable position that Nielson finds himself in this regards to his marriage and borders on insulting towards the women in his life. Firey. I like it. Unfortunately, however, UMO fail to capitalise on such a catchy opener as they instantly burst into Like Acid Rain and the profound opening lyric of “La La La La” and the seeping undertones of an album-filler-esque track.
The album fails to take off from this point it must be said, hovering between the pillars of mediocrity and good. Tracks such as Extreme Wealth And Casual Cruelty and Stage and Screen could have been present on either of the UMO’s previous two records in unnoticeable fashion, displaying the precise lack of musical progression that you’d hope to see from a band that displayed such early promise. Nielson’s voice through the middle-sector of Multi-Love sounds like even he doesn’t want to be recording this album or singing the lyrics- monotonous and uninspiring.
Maybe I’m missing the point of this record all together? Perhaps. There are rare moments of astounding hope, most notably the band’s second release from the album Can’t Keep Checking My Phone. The intro sequence to this number again shows the catchy rhythm of Geare’s drumming that is all to scarce on the album. The funky bass-playing present on this track is also far too scarce on the entire album. Even if it was written about a three-way marriage, I think we can all relate to this. All I want to do with this track is host a hipster-laden party in which we listen to this song on repeat all night. Or not. But the song symbolises a step-forward for the band. Like the opening number, you’re foot starts to tap and hips start to shake much before you even have time to stand up and start dancing.
Despite the controversial topic addressed in this album, of Nielson’s polygamous marriage, it sounds like the soundtrack to a primary school disco- catchy but safe. Ultimately, you’re left feeling a little sorry for the two women in his life. From such a sticky and fiery situation of open-relationships that the three-way marriage undoubtedly represented, Nielson failed to translate this into a music-worthy topic and with a band that finds its influences in the notorious psychedelia of the 60s and the dancefloors of 70s nightclubs it’s a shame they couldn’t produce something of equal passion.
‘Multi-Love’ is out now on Jagjaguwar Records
The full track-listing for ‘Multi-Love’ is as follows…
‘Like Acid Rain’
‘Ur Life On Night’
‘Can’t Keep Checking My Phone’
‘Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty’
‘The World is Crowded’
‘Stage or Screen’
You can see the band live at one of the following venues…