Never mind that Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II might have one of the more unoriginal album titles ever bestowed on a sophomore effort. For the Portland trio’s follow-up to their 2011 debut, frontman Ruban Nielson zeros in on the hazy guitar tones and nuanced melodies that first set the band apart from the pack. Better still, II finds Nielson scaling back the vocal effects to reveal a shredder who can pen some lyrics. Case in point: early album standout “So Good at Being in Trouble,” which finds Nielson fluttering through truths like “she was so good at being in trouble / so bad at being in love” alongside a characteristically funky bass line. Later, tracks like “One at a Time” and the penultimate “Faded in the Morning” finds the band paying their Black Sabbath dues as Nielson’s high-pitched vocals dance alongside twisted chord inversions and puzzling riffs. The result is an album poppy enough to get lodged in your brain, but interesting and intricate enough to warrant a second, third, and 20th listen.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra