Album Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

posted by on february 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm in Album Reviews

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - ii

our rating

8.4

(great)

key points

  • great guitar
  • not repetitive
  • maybe too experimental?

key tracks

  • swim and sleep (like a shark)
  • so good at being in trouble
  • the opposite of afternoon

songs from the album

swim and sleep (like a shark)
so good at being in trouble
the opposite of the afternoon

alec’s review

flow
9
originality
8
listenability
9
my score
9

Wow. This is an album that goes all over the place, and sounds so good while it does it. Listening to the album is  an exciting journey. While you love what you hear, you can’t wait to hear what comes next. At the forefront are psychedelic, groovy riffs and Rubin Neilson’s almost soulful voice coating the tracks with a great mixture of psychedelic experimentation and good songwriting. every song feels fundamentally different, and they span from down-to-earth songs focusing on lyrics and groove to psychedelic rock and roll that feels like it comes straight from the 70s. In fact, the whole album sounds like it could be from a different decade, yet nothing feels rehashed or copied or too played. Expect great things from these guys. They’ve figured out how to make the sweetest sounding and yet most interesting music I’ve listened to in a while.

Impression: Reminiscent of a musical universe of ages past, it sounds great and will keep you coming back for more.

alex s’ review

flow
9
originality
8.5
listenability
8
my score
8.5

Oh hot damn. I don’t think Unknown Mortal Orchestra is going to be unknown for very much longer. II combines great lo-fi instrumental effects with catchy vocal and just the right amount of weirdness. The tracks flow seamlessly between happy dancey and laid back chill giving just the right amount of variation to keep you entertained throughout. The filtered guitar effect gets much use during the majority of the tracks, and it works well. In addition, many songs have a Beatles/Monkees feel to them. In the song, The Opposite of Afternoon, UMO makes great use of vocals, guitar riffs, and a progressive buildup throughout to make for a magnificent song that has been playing on repeat on my laptop for the past few hours. UMO has done something right with II.

Impression: Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II is a fantastic album that makes great use of filtered guitar riffs, melodic vocals, and variance in songs. Definitely worth multiple listens.

jack’s review

flow
8
originality
7
listenability
9
my score
8

Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II is a very solid second release which is only marred by a few less-than-stellar tracks and questionable creative decisions. The album has a really great sound to it, with singer Ruban Nielson’s distorted yet somehow delicate vocals giving the songs a real emotional core, especially on stand-outs like “So Good At Being in Trouble” and “From the Sun”. Despite the predominantly sunny, upbeat sound, there is a tangible feeling of isolation and melancholy that permeates the album (see “Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)”). The great vocal performances and lyrics are complemented by the hyper-active guitar parts, which range from absolutely gorgeous to a little repetitive. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s tendency to let the guitar and rhythm section run on a little too long is one of the albums biggest missteps. For example, on “Faded in the Morning”, the minute-long instrumental outro kills the propulsive momentum the songs builds up over the first three minutes. The few straight-up rock songs are the low points for me, specifically “No Need For A Leader” and “One At Time”, the latter of which features an uncharacteristically simple breakdown that, while catchy, felt really out of place. Also, the excellent one minute instrumental track “Dawn” left me wanting to see more of the band’s cosmic, experimental side. But on the other hand, it’s hard to complain when so many of the songs here are really solid. When Unknown Mortal Orchestra gets a good groove going, it can be pretty irresistible.

Impression: A great collection of well-made, groovy pop songs that, while not perfect, hit of lot of high marks.

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