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Album Review: Unknown Mortal Orchestra - 'V'

Updated: May 3, 2023

It’s early, but V is my choice for Album of the Year.


Honestly, I don’t know how to talk about this album. Maybe it is my mood. I’m stuck in that late February/early March funk. When is it going to be spring? The problem is that we did not have winter in my area of the world. Grammarly wants me to change part of that sentence to “we do not have winter,” but that is not true. We do have winters, but this year, it never happened. And I feel off, still waiting for it, knowing it will not come around this year.

About V

The upcoming Unknown Mortal Orchestra album is full of complicated sounds and styles I gravitate towards. Listen to “Meshuggah.” It is upbeat, but parts of it hang on like baggage. It is being present but feeling the weight of problems from the past and stresses of the future. Brilliant. Complicated without being confusing. Everything I love about music and what I try to evoke in my fiction. “The Garden,” “That Life,” and “The Beach” are my favorites. The weight of the songs on V is camouflaged in lo-fi disco-funk Hapa-haole. They encompass the Beautiful.Sad Sweet.Broken mantra tattooed on my leg, and when I am in a valley of purgatory, it all hits too close to home.

Miley Cyrus (Stay with me. I promise there is a payoff.)

I am a big fan of Miley. In fact, I put her in the same category as Lebron James. She was in the spotlight from a young age and continued to believe in herself even when the world disapproved of her decisions. Like the King himself, Miley is on her way to being included in GOAT discussions. Say what you may, but she has a career and has accomplished a lot.

On March 10, Miley released Endless Summer Vacation. My wife and I listened to it on the way to a murder mystery party. Before we hit play, I told her that I am a fan of “Flowers.” Because of the title, I thought it would be some classic Miley party songs. However, I had mixed feelings after listening to the first couple of songs. Not because it wasn’t great; Miley can tap into her essence like many cannot. She is honest, and I love her for that. However, she titled the album Endless Summer Vacation, and I felt cheated.

I can argue why she might have named it that. Maybe that’s how she can best describe her and Liam Hemsworth’s relationship. Or perhaps their fights during a summer vacation made their relationship irreconcilable. Or maybe it is what she is searching for. I don’t know, but I don’t doubt that I feel how the musician wants me to feel. Endless Summer Vacation brings up complicated feelings that she is struggling to get through. Parts feel good, but the layers do not allow the situation to be simple.

Back to V

I brought up Miley’s album because V is just as complicated and honest. I love this album, and I am giving it a five out of five at the end of my review. However, it just isn’t that easy for me.

My Perspective Clouding My Judgment

No proper winter is messing with my head. The war in Ukraine, capitalism, and the general hatred present in our society today are cancers to my thoughts. The music released last year was fire and a distraction from everything. Spoon, The Weeknd, Drake, and Beyoncé reminded me how music can redirect my energy and focus. Miley, UMO, and Mac DeMarco’s newest album, Five Easy Hot Dogs, are forcing me to face my truths. Although my layers are different from these musicians, they are there.

Please don’t get me wrong; I am grateful for this album and believe it will bring them more attention than they probably want. Well-constructed, coherent, clean, and beautiful, V is as close to a perfect album as you will get. Honest. Open. There is not one song that does not feel like it fits. I have listened to it many times and will purchase the vinyl. It will sit with me as I continue to listen to it with an open heart and open mind.

Final Thought - This review was not fair to UMO. Ruban Nielson pushed the band to new heights, and this album is truly amazing. Even though I struggled to find my place in the conversation, many raving reviews will be written about it. That said, I must add: Ruban, UMO, Miley, and Mac DeMarco, I think you all want me to know I am not alone. I reflect and feel the weight of my decisions, but I am not alone. Thank you.

Favorite Songs: “Meshuggah,” “Shin Ramyun,” and “I Killed Captain Cook.” (I changed my mind.)

Rating – 5/5 – This really is a breakthrough album.

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