Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
The latest release by Unknown Mortal Orchestra has been getting plenty of headlines. And that’s at least partly because it includes songs about lead UMO Ruban Nielsen’s somewhat unusual polyamorous family relationship. In fairness, Nielsen hasn’t tried to keep things quiet. It’s come up in plenty of interviews. The album’s called Multi-Love after all. And plenty of songs reference the circumstances. However, it has provided the context for pretty much every review of the album. And that’s not surprising. When you shut the door on Enigma and open it up to Scrutiny, then you’re also inviting in her pals Comment and Judgement. But it’s all a bit of a shame. Because, inevitably, it’s taken some of the emphasis away from the big question of the day, namely ‘Is the album any good?’ And the answer to that question is a resounding, ‘Yeah, really not bad at all’. The previous UMO outing, II, was a wonderful, woozy affair. Sure, there were glammed-up Zeppelinesque riffs, but there was still a certain modesty to the overall sound. On Multi-Love, by contrast, there’s a brashness. We’re mainly in 70s and 80s funk and disco territory with more than a little bit of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. Think Foxygen. There are some more reserved moments, notably ‘The World Is Crowded’ and the title track itself, but for the most part this is an explosion of beats and sounds. In fact, there’s so much going on that at times it’s almost overwhelming. There’s a sense that every gadget had been gauged, every pedal has been pressed, and that every available knob has been nurdled. There’s not quite the coherence that unified the previous album, but there’s a liveliness that more than makes up for it. In fact, it can all become quite infectious. Infectious enough indeed to banish the headline-grabbing background. That’s good.