Unfortunately as Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest album isn’t out until 26th May I won’t be able to include it in my lead up to Liverpool Sound City. So in lieu of that, I’m going to review their last album II to give you an idea of how they sound.
With the spirit of the 70’s drug scene and a feeling of weariness, Unknown Mortal Orchestra manages to capture the feeling that for every ray of sunshine a shadow is cast with their album II. The opening line of the first track From the Sun is “Isolation can put a gun in your hand,” setting the tone for what is to come throughout the whole album – a summer bummer with some catchy hooks.
Swim and Sleep Like a Shark sounds like a Shins song with a touch of Feeling Flows by the Beach Boys with it’s distorted vocals, like listening to music underwater. It’s a trippy summer indie pop song that makes you want to just float away and abandon everything, whilst having definite nihilist themes within the song of sinking to the bottom, falling, hiding, letting yourself be crushed by the world and giving up your dreams.
The soulful So Good at Being in Trouble is about being in a moment of transition, of wanting to put the past of an old love behind you but not wanting to let that dead love go. The protagonist of the song is sad now that his love is gone, but also remembers that she was “So good at being in trouble/So bad at being in love,” lines repeated like a leit motif, echoing his inability to let go and that his state of mind keeps returning him to the start, like an endless loop.
The Opposite of an Afternoon is a jangly, garage guitar track reminiscent of The Kinks’ low-fi rock, whilst retaining all of the ethereality of psyche that permeates the whole album.
The whole album feels like something of a sundowner, or like the drunken haze experienced at the end off a day drinking at the beach. However, much like being drunk, there’s not that many memorable tracks on the album outside of the ones I mentioned – a lot of the album feels like it just drifts along, meanders and melts into one, not leaving you much to hang on to. Whilst I couldn’t recommend the album without reservation, it’s definitely an interesting listen, and I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice not checking out Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Liverpool Sound City.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.