Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Multi-Love” (Jagjaguwar)
While I’ve not always saluted the flag raised over modern purveyors of ‘70s AM mellow gold-inspired psychedelic pop, Portland, Oregon’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always felt a bit different. The band’s music sounds both 8-track and FLAC; a mixing of ‘70s, white guy R&B/“easy” psych-pop with more modern beats and structures.
“Multi-Love” is a good example. A call and response between the two eras – Supertramp-style organ and groovy sitar cut short by breakbeat rhythms. The cool, dispassionate robots of rhythm harshing your yellow-tinted memories of the polyester itch and chafe of a hot, wet American summer. The production has the band (and, in particular, vocalist Ruban Nielson) less covered in dandelion fluff than on past recordings, Nielson’s keening falsetto slinking over lines like “she doesn’t want to be your man or woman/she wants to be your love” – ‘60s free love, ‘70s key parties, ‘80s androgyny or modern, online virtual physicality? Why choose?