Unknown Mortal Orchestra
We may be only two weeks into 2013 but that certainly hasn’t stopped Unknown Mortal Orchestra delivering a serious candidate for the year’s coolest record. They may have skimped on the imagination when calling their second album II, but these boys from Oregon more than make up for it with a release that is bursting with creative melodies in pretty much every track. Like their well-received self-titled debut, this sounds like it was recorded in a garage. But each instrument still shines through as the band nicely mash up psychedelic pop with folk, funk and jazz before throwing a serious dose of style into the mix for good measure.
From the outset, it’s clear main man Kiwi-born Ruban Nielson is keen to go beyond the hook-driven rock of their debut effort. That’s seen on opener From The Sun, which builds from an acoustic line into a mild-mannered pop song that’s rounded off with a nifty little jazz guitar solo. First single Swim And Sleep (Like A Shark) bounces along before the band turn it down a notch for the cruisy So Good At Being In Trouble. However it’s the faster material here that really shines as the band fire off one cool guitar line after another on The Opposite Of Afternoon before swaggering into funky album highlight No Need For A Leader. The seven-minute long Monki has a neat laid-back vibe while Faded In The Morning is the closest they get to really rocking out. The DIY sound here can be a little distracting at first, but ultimately it just adds to the charm of an album that may very well end up in those top ten lists in 12 months’ time.
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