In the wake of Tame Impala’s success with Lonerism, expect there to be many more bands that trade in nostalgia for acid-tinged rock edging their way into the light. Foremost of these is Unknown Mortal Orchestra; their love of funky drumming and tough, reverb-soaked guitar licks practically guarantees their ascendency to the ranks of indie buzz bands. The problem, however, is that this is largely all they do. Every track on the album follows the same sort of formula – drums like an old school hip hop sample cut through with guitar-noodle riffery – and deviates from this path only slightly. Some are louder than others – as on “The Opposite of Afternoon” – but they all cover the same sonic terrain. The high points of this style are, frankly, rather incredible: check out the single, “Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)” for a good clue as to what a brilliant pop single sounds like in 2013. If the album stuck more to crafting moments like that, instead of losing itself in meandering, self-important guitar passages, it would be acclaimed. There is definite potential there, as long as guitarist/leader Ruban Nielson can get over himself long enough to realize it.
Final Mark: C+
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