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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

II (Jagjaguwar)

Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., March 15, 2013

SXSW 2013 Records

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

II (Jagjaguar)

New Zealand native Ruban Nielson's psychedelicized, lo-fi safari scored out of the box on intrigue alone, but sustaining that initial buzz across Unknown Mortal Orchestra's debut was a stretch. With album No. 2, Nielson augments his colorful canvas with a new level of cohesion that seals the deal. Much credit belongs to drummer Riley Geare, who holds down a steadfast groove that gives form to Nielson's underwater AM radio signal. Pastoral T. Rex update "From the Sun" kicks things off pleasantly enough, but the album gets interesting with "So Good at Being in Trouble." The falsetto soul trip works because of a bare-walled arrangement keeping camp at bay. Funkified backbeats knock glitter-laden boots with flanged-out bubblegum glam on "One at a Time," while the climax of "No Need for a Leader" incants early Can. Sounding like it was recorded in a musty shoebox, II nonetheless overflows with tweaky charm. (11:15pm, Scoot Inn; Thu., 1am, Red 7 Patio)

***.5

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