New Zealand-Portland psych-pop act Unknown Mortal Orchestra discreetly dropped one of the grooviest records of 2015, their third full-length, Multi-Love. It’s a noticeably more pop-driven album, far cleaner and more produced than the lo-fi psychedelic funk of their first two LPs. And on UMO’s latest single, “First World Problem,” the band maintains that integrity for big, dense, fully developed sounds–albeit through a much more progressive lens.
“First World Problem” kicks off with a startling volley of big band brass, an unprecedented flare of Latin dramatics that tapers down to a cool, Afropop vamp. That’s when frontman Ruban Nielson’s vocals jettison from the heavens–“When I woke/ I found my phone in the bed clothes”–and everything rights itself. His syrupy hooks and lyrical homeruns (“She’s eating birthday cake inside the disco”) are grounding and familiar, but nearly everything else about the track is not. It’s a heady, ambitious, genre-vaporizing dance number that will leave you reeling. Recorded in March during a break from touring Multi-Love, this new track shows UMO might be ready to break their trend of releasing a record once every two years, which is super exciting.
UMO previously contributed to The National‘s Grateful Dead triple album tribute, Day Of The Dead, which also features Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Local Natives and ANOHNI. Stream UMO’s cover and the original below.