Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Sex and Food


3.0
good

Review

by Thomas S. USER (27 Reviews)
May 10th, 2018 | 23 replies


Release Date: 04/06/2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A soulful record lacking in soul.

There’s always been a soulfulness to Ruban Nielson’s sound. Even in the scuzzy nascent stages of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a melodic richness gave shape to the wonky bedroom aesthetic; ‘Ffunny Ffrends’ and ‘How Can U Luv Me’ are ‘60s Motown standards dressed in psychedelic drag, their classic chord progressions pleasantly obfuscated by warbling saturation and runaway reverbs. Multi-Love (2015), with all its colourful eccentricities, saw Nielson finally embrace his natural disposition for pop-oriented songwriting. In many ways, Sex & Food feels like a continuation of its predecessor; the R&B croons, the effortless grooves, the Prince worship—that’s all still here. The warmth and exuberance that characterised Multi-Love, however, is long gone. Instead, Sex & Food is riddled with nihilism and technophobic anxiety—it’s alienating, claustrophobic and, in small doses, sublime.

Sex & Food—perhaps intentionally—never truly feels like a complete, singular record. Songs like ‘Major League Chemicals’ and ‘American Guilt’ recall the unhinged psychedelia of Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2011)—their bombastic riffing highlights Nielson’s technical proficiency as much as it does his self-professed Hendrix obsession. Elsewhere, the spidery musical acrobatics of ‘Ministry of Alienation’ and ‘The Internet of Love (That Way)’ inhabit a twilight zone somewhere between Smokey Robinson and David Bowie. ‘This Doomsday’ is an acoustic oddity sufficiently weird enough to resemble a King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard b-side, while ‘Hunnybee’—full of staccato strings and Chic-esque bass lines—sounds like futuristic disco lean enough to study to. If all this esotericism and genre-hopping sounds disorienting, you’re right—oftentimes, Sex & Food is an overwhelmingly discombobulating listen.

A sparse, soulful ballad at first, ‘Not In Love We’re Just High’ gradually unravels into a bizarre, obnoxious cacophony of whirring keys and flanging drums. An autopsy of a narcotically-induced romance—“said we're not in love we just hang out high as kites,” Nielson proclaims—is fitting subject matter for a song so disconcertingly subversive: instead of plucking your heartstrings, it tears them out altogether, leaving nothing but jarring indifference. This emptiness reflects the vapidity of modern life of which Sex & Food concerns itself—a soulful record lacking in soul.



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user ratings (74)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
tombits
May 10th 2018


3547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really like certain tracks here ('Major League Chemicals', 'Ministry of Alienation', ' 'Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays' and 'The Internet of Love (That Way)') but there's something so off-putting about this record as a whole. Tried to unpack that feeling in the review but I don't think I quite nailed it.

Evrimen
May 10th 2018


151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

My thoughts exactly. Such a disappointing record after the great Multi-Love. Have a pos

bloc
May 10th 2018


58794 Comments


Also gave this a 3

Digging: Soda Stereo - Dynamo

SandwichBubble
May 10th 2018


10608 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Glad everyone's in agreement for the most part

DoofusWainwright
May 10th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Kind of a shit band

Papa Universe
May 10th 2018


22470 Comments


Kind of a shit album

DoofusWainwright
May 10th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I admit they have albums slightly better than this...but overall, taking everything into consideration



Kind of a shit band

Papa Universe
May 10th 2018


22470 Comments


Nah, their past stuff is kind of great, but this...

Kind of a shit album

tombits
May 11th 2018


3547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I reckon II is still their most solid record

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 5th 2018


25092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

woah didnt see there was a rev for this..

tombits
June 7th 2018


3547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yup, not sure if this floated under the radar or if people simply just didn't dig it. The last three records had a killer single to build exposure ("Ffunny Frends", "So Good at Being In Trouble" and "Multi-Love") whereas this one has no real radio-friendly earworms.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2018


25092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

prob a bit of both, nice work tho on this. I think this is actually a high 3.5, agree it's a bit all over the place tone wise but the highlights are soooo tasty

tombits
June 7th 2018


3547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The front end of the record is absolutely banging, but I just can't get my head around those bizarre slow-burning ballads in the second half. I reckon 'Not In Love We're Just High' is by far the worst UMO track so far.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2018


25092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah that one felt v phoned in...

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 7th 2018


25092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the closer, however, I really enjoy tbh. melody is infectious n heartbreaking

StallionMang
June 7th 2018


9003 Comments


band rules, album is a hard step backwards
hunnybee i fucks with tho

danielcardoso
September 3rd 2018


11770 Comments


"This one has no real radio-friendly earworms".

Disagree quite a bit tbh. Hunnybee and Everyone Acts Crazy are among their best tracks for me and they're about as catchy as anything they've ever done.

tombits
September 5th 2018


3547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Everyone Acts Crazy is definitely the best single for sure. Hunnybee doesn't have any vocals for the first minute and a half, which is probably why it wasn't chosen to be a single in the first place.

OysterizerInsomniac
October 28th 2018


441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

man I don't get the hate, this is the first album of theirs I can get all the way through pretty much every time (good songs on all the other albums though)

SandwichBubble
October 28th 2018


10608 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Don't know if I agree with that, but the new album is probably the best thing they've ever done



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