Unknown Mortal Orchestra | II

Fat Possum Records (2013)
By RYAN REED  |  February 1, 2013
2.5 2.5 Stars


With the frustrating and often brilliant II, these oddball psych-pop New Zealanders have sunk even deeper into the swampy digs of why-fi — as in, "Why the hell tarnish such excellent songs with such half-assed fidelity?" Even more so than their buzz-worthy 2011 debut, II is a first-class showcase for Ruban Nielson's warped pop skills: "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" and "Faded in the Morning" are winding mazes of barbed-wire guitar fuzz and crooked tree-branch melodies; "One at a Time" pits Nielson's glass-eyed bark over rippling, Frank Zappa-styled wah-wah. Meanwhile, "So Good at Being in Trouble" ventures seamlessly into blue-eyed soul. But even these hooky highlights feel sonically smothered, as if they were recorded from inside a poorly ventilated shoebox. Why do modern indie bands like UMO purposely strive to sound shitty? Somebody needs to boot Nielson off his why-fi connection: beneath the murk is the work of a riveting craftsman.


UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA + FOXYGEN + WAMPIRE :: Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston :: March 2 @ 8 pm :: 18+ :: $13 :: 617.779.0140 or  brightonmusichall.com

Related: Boo-ya!, Rare treats, Review: Taam China Glatt Kosher Chinese Cuisine, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , unknown mortal orchestra
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   WAVVES | AFRAID OF HEIGHTS  |  March 18, 2013
    "I Can't Dream," the closer on Wavves' fourth studio album, opens in a drunken lo-fi stupor — Nathan Williams warbling bratty, tone-deaf nonsense over hissy acoustic power chords.
  •   THE VIRGINS | STRIKE GENTLY  |  March 06, 2013
    After a half-decade of semi-obscurity, frontman Donald Cumming is redefining his band as the hipster sultans of swing.
  •   ATOMS FOR PEACE | AMOK  |  February 26, 2013
    Kid A , Radiohead's confounding electro-rock masterpiece, is officially hitting puberty.
  •   ATLAS GENIUS | WHEN IT WAS NOW  |  February 20, 2013
    Atlas Genius are schooled students of modern pop architecture, seamlessly bouncing from Coldplay-styled acoustic rock to fizzy Phoenix funkiness to deadpanned Strokes-ian guitar chug. But When It Was Now is more like an alt-pop NOW compilation than a joyous synthesis.
  •   FOALS | HOLY FIRE  |  February 11, 2013
    Even at their most expansive, Foals are digging into more primal territory.

 See all articles by: RYAN REED