Unknown Mortal Orchestra //

II (Jagjaguwar)

16/20

 

Lo-fi production is a hit or miss affair. Sometimes it makes a record sound flat, it can suppress the richest textures, and it can ultimately drench quality music in a coat of nasty-sounding fuzz. But in the case of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s fantastic second album II, lo-fidelity enhances the essence of the songs. This album beautifully washes over tinkling guitar arpeggios and breezy vocals an air of nostalgia, a feeling of sensuousness, and an aesthetic of brittleness, with the instruments held together by a web of pure, reverbed emotion. The superb Swim and Sleep recall’s indie benchmark New Slang, while follow-up single So Good At Being In Trouble finds a new level of tenderness through the stunning, soulful delivery of the titular lyric. Comparisons to Tame Impala are inevitable, given the similar use of spacey guitar effects in tracks like One at a Time, and Faded in the Morning, but the gentility and passion of this record does much to distinguish it from the Aussie psych-ers’ stoned and snare-heavy output. With a consistently charming mood, broad dynamics and meticulously infectious hooks, this album guarantees to leave a warm feeling inside.

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Words: James Balmont

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