eMusic Review 0
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, primarily the creative vehicle of founder Ruban Nielson, is an unconventionally psychedelic band. Many of the things you’d imagine floating a psych rock tag cloud — “sprawling,” “trippy,” “open-ended,” “whimsical” — largely don’t apply. Nielson is a disciplined songwriter, and the carefully-constructed sound that unspools on II is streamlined, deliberately deployed and, oftentimes, gentle. In this psychedelia Venn diagram, the overlap is largely in the details: off-kilter production effects (vocal and guitar delay, occasional wah, slight panning); wispy vocals; a sense of groove. Slight nods and tactful sonic cues rather than “hey man, far out!” indulgence. Working in this sweet spot, Nielson has produced a loose batch of great songs.
II starts at a canter — the opening three tracks are fizzy and swinging, not quite nosing beyond mid-tempo. “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark),” an album standout, is irresistible, the chugging backbeat paired with Nielson’s deft fingerpicking like a slightly caffeinated version of “Blackbird.” “So Good at Being in Trouble” is sly slo-mo funk-soul with a wonderful ascending chorus melody and a pleasantly stark spaciousness. The back half of II spirals out into some more loose, expansive explorations. These aren’t wildly heady jams, though. “No Need for… read more »