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Vinyl, 4 Feb 2013
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Customers who bought this item also bought
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1. From the Sun
2. Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)
3. So Good at Being in Trouble
4. One at a Time
5. The Opposite of Afternoon
6. No Need for a Leader
9. Faded in the Morning
10. Secret Xtians
Mellow 2013 album! Jazz-tinged psych 'n' garage-funk noodling from Ruban Nielson (ex-Mint Chicks) and companions. Includes "Swim & Sleep (Like A Shark)".
From under a cloud of anonymity and a fug of re-hashed and re-vamped psychedelia emerged Unknown Mortal Orchestra, seemingly from nowhere. Dutifully, critics and blogs thanked their lucky stars that the indie world had regained some intrigue, no matter how fleeting, and heaped plaudits on their eponymous debut album of 2011.
Revealing their identity as three boys from Portland, Oregon, led by Kiwi musician and former member of The Mint Chicks Ruban Nielson, was the first step towards the novelty wearing off. Increasingly, Unknown Mortal Orchestra were left with nothing but their tunes to protect them.
Weathering that initial burst of hype has inevitably raised expectations for a follow-up album that, by Nielson’s own admission, is not hugely different from the first. If there are discernible musical differences, it’s that there’s a little more clarity and slightly less reliance on the fuzz pedals – except on the wah-gasm of One at a Time, which remains delightfully disgusting.
But we are afforded a little more time getting closer to Nielson’s rapidly accelerating guitar prowess, particularly on first single Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark). That track alone is reason enough to buy II, placidly holding back its volume so that the full melodiousness of that guitar can stand proudly at the front.
It’s almost enough to make you forget the rather sombre disposition of the lyrics. When Nielson sings about wanting to disappear and “fall to the bottom”, it’s not affecting because of what he’s saying as much as it is because the guitar is a perfect match for it – a sign that his songwriting has become a craft rather than a puzzle.
There’s minimal flab elsewhere on II, with echoes of Love at their poppiest and most blues-indebted (especially on the surprisingly indulgent seven-minute boogie-fest Monki) and 13th Floor Elevators at their scratchiest. But thankfully throwbacks aren’t a concern when the songs are as wonderfully complete as they are on this record.
Now that everyone knows who they are, and much as they might protest, stepping into the limelight with confidence might not be the worst thing for Unknown Mortal Orchestra right now.
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17 May 2014
Format: VinylVerified Purchase
If a psychedelic rock band from the late sixties/early seventies made a rock/funk album, this is hoe it would sound. They are a fairly small band with not a huge following but I can see them becoming a lot more popular as time goes by due to their jumping on the "psychedelic revival" wave that breaking out in music today. The album is well-crafted, each song forcing you to listen to its low fidelity sound, with songs like "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" that sound so familiar and welcoming, but at the same time is progressing music. It is a fun and calming album that far surpasses their debut effort, while not quite as good as Tame Impala, they incorporate funk into the genre like no-one else.
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