“Checked into my heart and trashed it like a hotel room” goes the opening lyric of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s deeply reflective, often whimsical, yet entirely absorbing third album, a record that seems to unveil something new each time you hear it. A natural progression from 2013’s drug-fuelled eulogy to loneliness II, Multi-Love is rather an unconventional exploration of love and togetherness, although in this case, the relationships in question are not exclusively monogamous.
Specialising in captivatingly melodic, thought-provoking, funky psychedelica, Unknown Mortal Orchestra – much like their peers Tame Impala – seem aware of the niche area they’re operating in, and once again act accordingly. One of the more interesting characters currently operating in the music business, UMO frontman Ruban Nielson always displays a drive to push the boundaries of creativity, and this is no exception. Arguably their most accessible, pop-centric creation to date, in terms of overall depth and progression the record is at the least equal to its two predecessors. Stylistically it follows a similar blueprint to the previous two albums, bridging the quirky pop sounds of ‘Ur Life One Night’, and ‘Can’t Keep Checking My Phone’, with the more topsy-turvy cacophonies ‘Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty’ and ‘Puzzles’, all the while maintaining a serene, progressive flow.
Veering from the zany, to the poetic and the downright chaotic, balance is established with the grounding presence of soulful vibes like ‘The World Is Crowded’, the title track, and ‘Necessary Evil’, laid-back grooves that not only prevent the record from veering into an uncharted territory, but also provide some of the album’s most vividly expressive moments. Lyrics like “Oh the world is crowded, is this what your doctor prescribed, mother” and “I’ll be your Vicodin, expired and escaped to Valhalla”, are a good indication of the album’s diversely eccentric content, while the innovative nature of the instrumentation, which harks back to some of the pioneers of electronic and psychedelia, demonstrates just how much of a creative force UMO have become in their relatively short existence. With so much going on over the course of nine tracks it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint exactly what direction the album is attempting to take, while its notable brevity only emphasises that a lot more exploration could have been undertaken, but its flamboyant creativity, accomplished delivery and masterful production, assuredly make Multi-Love one of the most compelling albums of the year.