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Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-Love [Digipak]

Track List

>Like Acid Rain
>Ur Life One Night
>Can't Keep Checking My Phone
>Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty
>World Is Crowded, The
>Stage or Screen
>Necessary Evil

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "MULTI-LOVE sees Nielson coloring outside the lines for a vibrant vision of connection."

Entertainment Weekly - "[A] back-to-front gem of blown-out disco and distorted boogie..."

NME (Magazine) - "'The World Is Crowded' swaddles its titular warning in a ballad, but closer 'Puzzles' is harsher."

Paste (magazine) - "His talent for orchestrating intricate percussion is pretty staggering, and the beats have never sounded better than they do here. They feed into the melodies, and the melodies feed into them."

Album Notes

The third Unknown Mortal Orchestra was recorded during a tumultuous time in Ruban Neilson's life, when his ideas about love and marriage were blown apart, forever changed, and then carefully rebuilt. Fittingly, the music on Multi-Love is different too, changed from warped psychedelic weirdness into something a little more focused and song-oriented. Also, something less guitar-heavy and with a strong classic soul influence, almost like what Mark Ronson could have done if he overindulged in cough syrup one night. Even with the songs being on a tighter leash, and some different influences (Prince, disco, soft rock) informing them, Neilson is still far from a traditional singer/songwriter or neo-soul crooner. He layers all sorts of weird sounds into his arrangements, keeps listeners on their toes with surprising little sonic twists, and never settles into an overly familiar groove, which is a pretty common failing when indie rock people suddenly go disco or R&B. Working in his basement studio with an array of self-built synths (and his brother Kody on drums), Neilson balances his sonic explorations with some painful soul-baring, drawing listeners in with his words and emotions while dazzling them with the sounds. Shimmering tracks like the lit-by-a-disco-ball jam "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" and the strutting "Like Acid Rain" are perfect for dancing with tears in your eyes; the title track and "The World Is Crowded" are emotion-drenched midtempo laments it's easy to imagine Justin Timberlake or John Legend covering if they ever wanted to go left-field; and "Ur Life One Night" bubbles along like some low-rent Hall & Oates. The darkly melancholic late-night soft rock ballad "Necessary Evil" is a contender for best track on the album; it dials down the passion and sonic trickery to low levels and delivers more emotional power in return. It also has a beautiful horn part played by Neilson's dad Chris. Multi-Love is definitely a departure from his previous work, but he has both the skill and the passion to pull it off. Ironically, where the album stumbles a bit is on the more experimental tracks, where Neilson let his precisely controlled sound get away from him a bit. Both "Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty" and "Puzzles" stretch out far past the five-minute mark and didn't really need to, the former being derailed by a long sax solo, the latter featuring an acoustic guitar solo that seems to last forever. Subtracting these two songs from the record helps it, but leaving them in doesn't do much damage either, really. Multi-Love is still an impressive stretch that shows Neilson successfully moving away from the sound that made him strangely popular without losing much of the adventurous spirit that informed it. Plus, adding some actual wrenching emotion to the mix makes it sound like there are some real stakes involved this time out to go along with the cool sounds. ~ Tim Sendra


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