Unknown Mortal Orchestra: The new disco

New Zealand band Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always changed their sound through the course of each album. From their 2011 self-titled debut and its 2013 follow up, “Unknown Mortal Orchestra II,” the overall sound of the band has evolved from eerily catchy indie rock to more straightforward and conventional sounds. 

Now with their third album, “Multi-Love,” Unknown Mortal Orchestra has decided to follow the path of electronic funk-pop.

 “Multi-Love” is endlessly catchy from beginning to end; despite the fact the sound is a little common like that of most “indie electronic” bands these days.

When the record begins, it almost sounds like U.K. electronic indie pop act Hot Chip in every way as the bleeps and bloops that inhabit the air sound almost exactly like their 2012 record “In Our Heads” or even their brand new album “Why Make Sense?” However, the sound evolves into a combination of Parliament and Chic mixed with a little bit of disco, much like that of late-70s KISS. 

One standout track, lead single “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,” showcases this newfound sonic pathway and mixes it expertly with Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s original odd sound. 

The track is about waiting for a response from a loved one and sweating bullets over the anticipation one goes through while waiting for the next text message. While “Multi-Love” is not a classic, it’s indeed a testament to the creativity Unknown Mortal Orchestra encompasses. 

It’s a different and more experimental approach than most bands would endeavor, especially one whose music is played on mainstream radio. Bands like Arctic Monkeys, whose 2013 album “AM” displayed a more rhythm and blues sound compared to their frenetic garage rock or moody stoner rock sound, have tried but failed in recent times. 

Even veterans The Strokes attempted the same project and missed, almost sounding like 80s new wave rather than the bands of now. 

While not the most enjoyable, “Multi-Love” still gives the listener an eye-opening listening experience, especially when the record as a whole sounds just like the record’s cover, a practice space lit by an ominous pink blob in the corner. 

“Multi-Love,” exchanges creaky guitar and odd sounds for staccato chords and synthesizers that, while sounding like 70s disco and funk laced with hallucinogens, still makes for an interesting trip that may lead listeners to discover other disco-influenced artists who can also successfully create this sound.