Portland via New Zealand psych rockers, Unknown Mortal Orchestra have just released II, their (appropriately titled) followup album to their 2011 breakout self-titled album. UMO’s first album is best described as that surprise gem you find cooped away in your parent’s attic. Now we come to II. II is described by UMO’s brainchild, Ruban Nielson as being “More ambitious” then his last effort. Certainly a more ambitious outing, and a good one at that. 60’s psychedelic vibes are still sprinkled throughout as well as Ruban’s impressive guitar work. Lyrical themes are much darker this time around though, dealing with lonliness and depression. You probably couldn’t tell this was a dark album from hearing the upbeat instrumentation and breezy vocals. “Swim And Sleep (Like A Shark)” expresses the idea of wanting to be isolated from everything, wading at the bottom of a dark ocean. The dark lyrics are complimented by some catchy, upbeat guitar work, entrancing lullaby-like melodies, and gentle vocals that sound like it could have easily been a Zombies track.
UMO is releasing this album via Jagjaguwar, but production values have not changed from their first album. II still is enrobed in a dusty lo-fi sheen creating a warmth that sounds intended for analog playback. II‘s sound transcends genres, tracks dabble the lines of pop, funk, and R&B all while staying in a psychedelic rock frame. I’m eager to see what Unknown Mortal Orchestra have in store for the future.