Music by the Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Twin Danger
Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar) Ever since the Unknown Mortal Orchestra first made waves with the internet hit “Ffunny Ffrends,” the band — mostly the brainchild of New Zealand-born Ruban Nielson (now a resident of Portland, Oregon) — has carved out a unique sound. Using that song as a blueprint for future success, the group has put together bits of psychedelic, handcrafted pop, all heavily compressed so the drums sound tinny and Nielson sounds like he’s singing through his teeth and a mouth full of braces. Fortunately, he’s got a strong voice, and it’s in evocative form here, as the band fractures the sounds and feelings of Motown and 1970s soul music, and Neilson uses them as tools to reveal the emotional details of his polyamorous relationship with his wife and another woman. The album opens with the title track, which offers the lay of that land: “Multi-love got me on my knee/We were one then become three/Mama, what have you done to poor me.” Bassand organ-driven funk bubbles up in that song and throughout the proceedings, giving almost everything a danceable swing. The band employs a doo-wop shuffle on “The World Is Crowded,” while album highlight “I Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” is a flashy bit of rattling disco. The group’s recording style can sound slightly monochromatic across a whole album, but the songwriting covers a lot of ground. This album is a leap forward for Unknown Mortal Orchestra.