V by Unknown Mortal Orchestra album review by Lauren Rosier for Northern Transmissions



Unknown Mortal Orchestra

To me, New Zealand’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always had this classic, vibey sound, perfect to soundtrack anyone’s life, whether it be a relationship break-up, a summer romance, a long drive down the 405, or whatever the case may be. Regardless, V is here, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s brand new double album, their fifth overall, perhaps their best record to date. The album spans 14 tracks and opens the double album with a rocker titled “The Garden” which has the band rocking out to 70s-inflected rock decorated with shiny synths. Around the 4:00 mark, the track features a guitar solo from lead guitarist Ruban Nielson. The band delivers some of its best work of lyricism and musical instrumentation on this record.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s years of experience have led them to learn how to create music for certain vibes. “Guilty Pleasures” is one of these tracks. It’s a great summery track embellished with a beautiful brass section with great lyricism: “now I know the days are getting hotter, guilty
pleasures are right around the corner, now i know that the nights are getting colder, guilty pleasures are holding us together..”

UMO is just as skilled at writing strictly instrumental music as they are writing both lyrics and music. The song, “The Widow,” is a terrific example of the band’s musicianship. The track features some of the most beautiful keys and melodies I’ve heard in a while, and the brass section adds excellent dynamics to the song. It opens dramatically, then quickly transitions into a beautiful, smooth synth melody.

The band continues to churn out well-written psych-rockers on the album’s next two tracks, “In The Rear View” and the album’s second single, “That Life.” This track is so infectious from start to finish; from its rhythmic beat to Ruban’s vocals, the song is just one of the catchiest tracks on the album.

UMO churns out singles like singles “Layla,” “Weekend Run,” and “I Killed Captain Cook.” The track, “Layla,” possesses this beautiful, sunny, reggae vibe similar to Hawaii’s atmosphere, where Ruban spent time during the pandemic.

The last track on the record is “Drag” and its a fantastic track to end the album with. Frankly, I think between the instrumentals, and lyricism, and this is going to be one of the best albums of 2023.

Pre-order V by Unknown Mortal Orchestra HERE


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