Unknown Mortal Orchestra: II
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: they’re super groovy, a little bluesy, and sometimes just a bit weird. In 2011 they released their first self-titled album, and it quickly took off. Anyone familiar with the band would be ecstatic to find out that just two years later Unknown Mortal Orchestra is releasing their second album, II. In short, the album is fantastic. It’s not gimmicky, it’s something fresh, and really, it has the ability to make a bad day into a good day.
II kicks off a five second ambient build up that bursts into a beautiful acoustic serenade. “From The Sun,” the albums first track, is the perfect preface. Entrancing, fuzzy vocals with mesmerizing lyrics and semi-psychedelic tones are what defines II. Almost every track is a taste of psychedelia, while still remaining logical and accessible enough to not seem like some sort of parodical joke (that is to say, far-out…man). Despite the album’s overall feel, track three, “So Good At Being In Trouble,” sounds a lot more like blues. Maybe it’s the slower tempo, maybe it’s the lyrical delivery. “She was so good at being in trouble…So bad at being in love,” tends to stand out in this album; maybe it’s just the way the song contrasts so much against the funky jam session feel.
If II has an Achilles’s Heel, it’s that jam session feel. Unknown Mortal Orchestra don’t hold back and the album deserves the praise it’s received so far, but somehow it doesn’t sound all too orchestrated. That might be a rather laughable statement, but a six minute song begins to sound a little bit like a daydream when nothing mind-blowing happens. For example, “No Need For A Leader” starts off by building from a simple drum beat and bass melody, to adding the guitars, and then the vocals. At first it’s perfectly fine, and then it all kind of stagnates. At this point, the album is half way through, and the listener is looking for a nice breath of fresh air. He’s really not going to get it. It’s the same lo-fi psychedelic story. Remember, track one defined II; this album isn’t diverse by any means, but at least it’s pretty damn good anyways.
The album stands out given the cluster of less-than-interesting music out there today. Good things are to be expected. The album’s strongest point is also the band’s strongest point: it sounds good without adding any fluff. Comparatively, if you were to listen to any band or album like this one, you’d be greeted by a series of sounds that trying to make you believe you’re on drugs –or the band producing it is. Unknown Mortal Orchestra doesn’t seem to care, and frankly, they shouldn’t either. There’s not a song on this album that sounds or feels cheap or silly. Fans of Unknown Mortal Orchestra will rejoice, and new fans will be made. It’s rare to find music this satisfyingly good.
So far, 2013 has been a pretty awesome year for music. There’s been a lot of spectacular albums to release. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is righteous. The music is great to just listen to. In a world so crazy as this one, II is an escape from reality. It’s safe to say that II will easily be recognized as one of the best new albums of 2013.