Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Released in 2013
Reviewed February 17 2013
It's all been done, thousands of times, decades ago. Men with guitars and others banging on drums. What will you bring to the table?
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are a band who … let's just say they lean on tradition. «Isolation can put a gun in your hand,» they sing in perfect harmony, and at this point the lyrics might just as well be about a sunny day at the seaside. Then the drums and bass kick in after a minute and a half, and you think you've stumbled over a lost tape from the Abbey Road sessions. It sounds so smooth and creamy, so correct, you're tempted to believe the present never happened.
But it's not about the sound. It's not about longing for an age of bakelite knobs and tubes. It's focused, not contrived or calculated. As with Tame Impala, or White Denim, it's about what happens there and then, in the music. A certain level of skill helps glue it all together, in terms of melody, arrangement and performance.
The end result is an album that is timeless rather than retro, that convinces rather than insists. And it's surprisingly catchy. Turns out making good music is a game anyone can enter, regardless of birth date.