“I definitely let his royal purple-ness influence this record,” says Ruban Nielson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra bandleader.
The popular Portland band is preparing to release their Prince-influenced new album Multi-Love May 26 on Indiana’s Jagjaguwar label.
Nielson says longtime fans of Unknown Mortal Orchestra might find Multi-Love’s sound a little surprising. “I wanted to make a record of this time,” Nielson tells EW. “I think my last two records wanted to feel like lost gems from the late ’60s or something.”
Nielson continues: “In this one I wanted to make a record that referenced those things but felt like it was definitely from now and spoke to modern experiences.”
Despite the Prince-ish groove of “Ur Life One Night,” there remains a certain buttoned-downed propriety to Unknown Mortal Orchestra that sometimes recalls ’60s-era British Invasion groups, complete with a chimerical vinyl crackle that exists somewhere between the subconscious and the audible.
“I’m pretty synonymous with the lo-fi movement, whatever that means,” Nielson says. “The new album isn’t really lo-fi at all.”
“I think the sound of the record is still reminiscent of classic old records but not in a super fuzzy way. I put a lot of keyboards and strings and horns and things like that on it.”
Title track “Multi-Love” features a chamber-music style keyboard intro, but soon falls into the exhilarating, hip-sway vibe that underscores the whole record — a groovy mix of head and heart that could be called baroque R&B.
“I like baroque R&B!” Nielson says. “I wouldn’t mind being stuck with that category so much.”
When it came time to kick-off the Multi-Love warm-up tour, Nielson says Unknown Mortal Orchestra picked a venue and town they liked and were comfortable in.
“We enjoyed it a lot when we played at WOW Hall last time,” Nielson says. “The show will be a party for sure.”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra launches its new tour with Portland’s Nurses 9 pm Thursday, May 7, at WOW Hall; $15. All ages.