Review Summary: Multi-Love is a wonderfully varied and textured slice of psych-pop weirdness.
For an album as alluring sonically as Multi-Love
is, there are still a few things lurking beneath the soil. Songwriter Ruban Nielson airs out his dirty laundry as he expands upon the vulnerability and emotional tumult that accompanies the concurrent existence of multiple romantic relationships. Where the album excels, however, is keeping the mood high above the surface with candy-coated melodies, delightful hooks, and a keen sense of pysch-pop revivalism.
The title track is the perfect introduction to Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s wondrous songwriting. Nielson’s lyrics explore the destructive effects of polyamory as the band blends tuneful bass with bouncy keyboards. The production has a nostalgic flair and an analog sensibility that enriches the band’s sound. As a result, Unknown Mortal Orchestra take advantage of their ability to tiptoe into styles like funk, R&B, and disco on tracks like “Necessary Evil”, which also has one of the most memorable hooks the band has penned yet.
Similar to 2014’s Pom Pom
has a fantastic pop immediacy, but it also dares to be bizarre. Never knowing which side of the coin will dominate the song keeps the songs compelling. The drug-addled “Like Acid Rain” is a pithy pop gem with an incredibly danceable rhythm, whereas “Ur Life One Night” and “Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty” are more warped and sprawling. Nielson’s vocal delivery certainly pays tribute to artists like Prince, but his performance is never restrained by these influences. Whether he’s hitting a falsetto or gently crooning, he brings plenty of spirit to an already stimulating backdrop. Furthermore, tracks like “Stage or Screen” lock into shameless grooves infused with colorful mixing.
However, the album is not quite as cohesive as it tries to be, and some of the experimental detours Unknown Mortal Orchestra takes are occasionally less exciting. Nonetheless, some of the more intriguing detours are saved for the closing track “Puzzles”, which is more rock-oriented than most of the tracks. Its wayward guitar riffs have a garage-rock feel to them and a rawness that sharpens a nice edge for the album. Though there are a few underwhelming moments on the LP, the majority of Multi-Love
is instantaneously enjoyable and detailed to a degree that rewards handsomely.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s third album is stacked with some of the best and most infectious songs of the year. Though it is decidedly a retrospective release, the band tactfully incorporates the variety of musical styles in a way that is noticeably modern. What ultimately emerges is something thought-provoking and sexy. Nielson’s world might be dissolving around him, but his music has only become richer.
Like Acid Rain
Extreme Wealth and Casual Cruelty