It’s hard to discuss modern psychedelia without the mention of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Since 2010, the band have solidified their place as one of the most inventive and inspired modern rock outfits, refusing to conform and simply creating the art they want to create. Now, this new record is arguably the definitive UMO album. In traditional UMO fashion, this new LP takes inspiration from all sections of the musical spectrum: 60s rock and roll and psychedelia, West Coast hip hop production, some more modern indie moments. One of their signature traits is being able to create a bizarre and colourful amalgamation of sounds and wrapping it up in a cohesive and brilliant package; that’s exactly what ‘V’ is.
Opener ‘The Garden’ is a solid launch pad for the record. It’s woozy, hazy, bathed in vintage and organic textures, with a disco feel to the drums. The fuzzy guitar solo towards the end of the track is a little out of left field but is some serious musicianship – a self-indulgent moment is allowed, especially on records of this size. The album is packed with danceable moments too, like the driving ‘Meshuggah’ or the more understated ‘The Beach’. The penultimate cut on the record, ‘I Killed Captain Cook’ is a wonderfully peculiar track, unique vocal control sitting atop of a scratchy acoustic guitar. It has the intimacy of older Bon Iver projects but still an element of fun and playfulness, two traits UMO refuse to get rid of.
Double albums aren’t for everyone, but don’t let the intimidating track lengths deter you from this project. ‘V’ is full of ingenious moments with some seriously impressive production and performances from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The New Zealanders have clearly poured a lot into this project, and the outcome is one of their finest bodies of work to date.
Listen to ‘V’ here: