Unknown Mortal Orchestra
II - JAGJAGUWAR
FILTER Grade: 86%
By Zack Kraimer on February 28, 2013
Very rarely does a record cover as much ground as this trio’s sophomore release. There’s hardly any negative space—II is dense with textures, tones and character, from the contemplative picking and chordal hopscotch in opener “From the Sun” on through. The group has grown tremendously since their 2011 self-titled debut, trading meek, fragile indie-pop for this full-bodied, adventurous set. These tracks were tenderly meticulously written, unpretentious and accessible, yet melodically intricate. Genre-shifting is a recurring theme—retro funk, blue-eyed soul, post-punk, ’60s psychedelia and elements entirely their own are heard side by side. The record has moments for any day or mood, from the heartbreaking recluse anthem “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” to the sun-bleached “So Good At Being In Trouble” and the sweetly hazy “The Opposite of Afternoon.” The bristling wah stabs in “One at a Time” give way to a sugary, fulfilling refrain. The production is minimal, leaving II feeling pure and honest.