In this series we look back into the year 2013 by reviewing an album from this year every other week.
A year after the release of their selftitled debut album, Unknown Mortal Orchesta from Auckland, New Zealand announced having signed with Jagjaguwar – the label that released all of their longplayers since then. Although in retrospect, the second album „II“ – which was released as the initial shot for the record deal – was not as successful as its predecessor in New Zealand, it has laid the foundation for UMO’s international career.
Different to the selftitled debut, the sophomore release was no one-person-show by lone songwriter Ruban Nielson. The band founder still composed each of the ten tracks, and on the recordings he played the drums for ‚So good at being in Trouble‘ and ‚Secret Xtians‘ and most of the instruments. Further musicians on „II“ were Kody Nielson (drums), Gregory Rogove (drums), Jacob Portrait (bass), and Chris Nielson (horns).
The music on „II“ can be regarded as an answer to early Post-Millenium Indie Rock. Still using plenty of themes from Garage Rock, Shoegaze psychedelia, electronic glitches, and a little bit of Funk and Soul, Unknown Mortal Orchestra presented a sound that stood out from previous Post Punk Indie generation. Less self-destruction and more honesty towards one’s own introversion might be crucial elements that differentiate OMU’s second album from numerous Babyshambles, Dirty Pretty Things or Libertines releases.
Would an album like „II“ by Unknown Mortal Orchestra still hit the charts if it was released today? Very likely so. The year 2013 and the associated decade may have their own sound, but fragile and dreamy sounds that combine hazy rock with soulful tunes and synths still delights the masses. And it is about to be expected that the upcoming album „V“ will be highly celebrated once out on March 17, 2023.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are something like a famous insider tip. The band around Ruban Nielson is meant to stay, and albums like „II“ are living proof for their timeless character. On MangoWave, „II“ would probably receive 5/10 Mangoes though.
Next up in this series: Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance