Unknown Mortal Orchestra get dark for Sex and Food

Sex and Food; humans’ greatest pleasures. Naming an album as such evokes immediate thoughts of excess and indulgence, perhaps a provocative album, or at least one that provides lustful joy upon listening. But Sex and Food isn’t that at all. Instead, Unknown Mortal Orchestra's album is rather twisted and gloomy. Considering the vibrant and lucid sexiness of Multi-Love; this release takes a step back from the apparent wonder of it all. In replacement, we see a muddled trip down memory lane with touches of II, shaded by the context of the American shit dump we’re in now.

Like all Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums, there’s a feeling of the abstract with fluid textures and jangly guitar. Psych-pop is laced with Ruban Nielson’s falsetto vocal and funk-infused soundscapes to dreamy effect. But there’s a darker melancholia to the album that seeps through, from the lyricism to the slightly slower and heavier output.

The screeching intro to the album is “A God Called Hubris” and sets the precedent. Very Tame Impala in its dream pop texture, the track veers into the uncomfortable with skipped beats and unexpected rhythms. “Major League Chemicals” is cut from the same cloth, with harsh vocals paired with fast riffs. Glimpses of II are evident in the makeup, with a riff that isn’t too far from that of “Faded In The Morning”.

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The central pull of the album, however, is “Ministry of Alienation”. Reflective of the futuristic state of the modern day, the eerie melody evokes paranoia and discomfort. “No one will fuck the ugly robot,” summarises the dystopian intentions, created with chiming guitar and impending melody. Ceasing the claustrophobia, the track ends with a sudden screech of isolation.

There are dabbles of upbeat funk in the bleak outlook, especially in “Hunnybee”. One of the most delicate tracks on the album, it acts as a love song to his daughter, with middle name Hunnybee. With beautiful charm, the resounding chorus is touching and almost seems out of place in the harsh musings of the rest of the album although the dark undertones are still lurking.

“Chronos Feasts On His Children” steals the melody from “From The Sun” from II, and it’s not the only time we hear echoes of the 2013 album. Reflection seems to be a recurring premise, perhaps because of the state of unrest, we find ourselves in now. Or because II is wholly more identifiable now, with the gift of hindsight.

Following the eccentric entrails of Multi-Love, we’ve gone past the excitement of the first bouts of love. Unknown Mortal Orchestra delves ever deeper into inner paranoia and turbulence of themselves and that which is happening around them. Sex and Food may not be the lascivious album you expect, but it certainly carries the same amount of sensuality, depth and contemplation to cement the album as a great pleasure.

Release: 6th April 2018, Jagjaguwar
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