A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Newswire Great Job, Internet!
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Unknown Mortal Orchestra


Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Album: Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Label: Fat Possum

Community Grade (10 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade


Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson is the latest in a long line of musical scavengers, racing to translate the sounds in his head by pulling from what’s already there. On the debut by Nielson’s erstwhile one-man band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, that process involves building something new from reenacted hip-hop drum breaks, some doses of bad-trip psychedelia, and heavily processed slashes of garage-rock guitar. The project has since morphed into a Portland-based power trio, but on record, Nielson’s creation is by turns a crate-digging Voltron and a circuit-bent automaton. When all the pieces are working together—propelling through the lo-fi haze of “Ffunny Ffriends” or projecting the CB-radio soul of “How Can U Love Me”—it’s a quirky vision of a pop canon that never was; when the songs confuse a rut for a groove, their hypnotic qualities lapse into repetition. Nielson’s upper-register rasp occasionally recalls that of Paul McCartney, which seems appropriate—as a mercurial experiment in home recording, Unknown Mortal Orchestra lines up nicely with the ex-Beatle’s McCartney and McCartney II LPs. And like those two releases, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s idiosyncrasies and straightforward melodies portend greater, untapped potential.