ALBUM REVIEW: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Following on from the last opus ‘Multi-Love’, multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson and his band of unknown mortals have assembled the orchestra again to soundtrack ‘ Sex & Food ‘, the 4th album from the modern-psychedelic band. With the previous album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Multi-Love’ centring around a theme of a dysfunctional love triangle (is there any history of truly functional love triangles?), ‘Sex & Food maintains a similar theme with some culinary inspiration along the way. Having seen UMO at Manchester Ritz on the ‘Multi-Love’ tour, I can confirm that they can kick this beat live just as well as they can in a production studio surrounds.
Whilst I’m a big fan of Multi-Love and the previous LP ‘II’, I’m open to loving this new release and hope that with it brings a new high for the band. Without further ado, here’s the Sex & Food album run-through:
Track by Track
A God Called Hubris – Introducing the album with a short instrumental, welcome to Sex & Food.
Major League Chemicals – This first full-length track on the album has the gritty, unpolished garage-rock sound UMO have been known for over the years.
Ministry of Alienation – UMO have an ability to bash out hard-hitting, gritty sounding productions and soft heart-felt soul in equal measures – Ministry of Alienation has soulful guitars and dreamy vocals to boot.
Hunnybee – A string ensemble brings in more soulful bass & disco funk, ladened with a certain Chic and Grandmaster Flash vibe accompanied by those signature UMO hushed vocals.
Chronos Feasts on His Children – UMO like to have interludes in their albums and Chronos is Sex & Food’s addition, lasting for almost two minutes. Is it an idea that was great as a stand-alone piece? Or just helping to progress the album as was intended? Either way, it sits in the middle of the album and is the calm before the exploding second half.
American Guilt – The first single from Sex & Food, American Guilt personifies the gritty punch of the experimental band, with a catchy chorus and looping verse. A perfect first single, this one has been hitting the airwaves aplenty. American Guilt sees UMO more mainstream than in previous releases, following on from Multi-Love bringing out the band’s notoriety for kicking out the jams at the right time.
The Internet of Love (That Way) -The seventh track on the album is another smooth vibe, and a greedy platter with all of the instruments you can imagine – in fact, probably the only way to follow up after the stonking American Guilt. “FIle under Sex or Food, Ruban? We’ll file under both”
Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays – Keys and drums lead this beauty out, bringing an excellent kick to the track. With more of the trademark UMO hushed vocals, this one is going into my next set. ‘Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays’ Balearic and almost 70’s disco beats have an untouched garage-grit with jangly guitars all at the same time. The title is UMO contribution to a summarisation of the state of the world… (maybe we should collide our food with sex and then everything will be tickety-boo!?)
This Doomsday – Multi-vocals deliver a verse full of Haiku bounce, with a laziness to the vocals giving an apt (considering the title) dark beauty with smooth synths and pizzicato guitar aplenty. <reader reaches for thesaurus and finds that means finger-plucking, jargon busting>. This one stands out, for sure.
How Many Zeros – Drums, Synths and soft vocals with the bass coming in strong after the 30 sec intro, Thundercat would happily jump on this one. Just saying – (in the hope that he’s on a shared festival line-up at some point this year and offers up his services.)
Not in Love We’re Just High – Backed by a solid Rhodes bassline and a gentle vocal that helps us through – that is, until the drums kick in and bring a second dimension to conclude the prominent beat. Not In Love We’re Just High is the latest single taken from Sex & Food and it sounds GREAT.
If You’re Going to Break Yourself – A soft conclusion to a highly varied album with a unique sound, and another strong offering from the lads from down under. ‘If you’re going to break yourself, you can’t break me’ – mantra!
With Rhodes, synths, HC-TT, sax, vocals, guitar, bass, violins, piano, drums, sitar and drones mashed together in some sex-inspired food smorgasbord, Sex & Food is a feast of an album. Bring on the live events!