Today, Unknown Mortal Orchestra shares a new single. “That Life” out now via Jagjaguwar, highlights the intricate production, soulful hooks, and elevated instrumentation for which the band is known. The new song comes alongside a masterful video directed by Lydia Fine and Tony Blahd featuring a puppet created by renowned Daytime Emmy Award-nominated puppeteer and fabricator Laura Manns, who has worked on The Muppets and Sesame Street. The video, featuring Mann’s puppet and immaculately constructed sets captures the song’s energy well.
Speaking on the evolution of the song, frontman Ruban Nielson says: “I saw this painting by Hieronymus Bosch called The Garden of Earthly Delights and in the painting there was a mixture of crazy stuff going on, representing heaven, earth, and hell. When I was writing this song, ‘That Life,’ I was imaging the same kind of ‘Where’s Waldo’ (or ‘Where’s Wally’ as we call it in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK) of contrasting scenes and multiple characters all engaged in that same perverse mixture of luxury, reverie, damnation, in the landscape of America. Somewhere on holiday under a vengeful sun.”
“That Life,” comes on the heels of UMO’s previously-released single “Weekend Run.” Their first official single since their shapeshifting 2018 full-length, Sex & Food, which Billboard called their “most boldly eclectic LP to date,” “Weekend Run” embodies the breadth of what Unknown Mortal Orchestra has displayed over the course of their career — a radio-ready earworm of a chorus, a subtle nod to disco in its groove and an idiosyncratic bridge that could only belong to Ruban Nielson. Unknown Mortal Orchestra has stayed busy between Sex & Food and “Weekend Run,” releasing the freewheeling IC-01 Hanoi project, dipping into the pop landscape through collaborations with Aminé (“Buzzin”), Gorillaz (“Severed Head” ft. GoldLink), Free Nationals (“Beauty & Essex” ft. Daniel Caesar) and India Shawn (“Too Sweet”), as well as turning out remixes for Westerman’s “Drawbridge,” Soccer Mommy’s “circle the drain,” and Arlo Parks’ “Too Good.”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra began as the recording project of Ruban Nielson in 2010. After recording several songs and posting them online anonymously, Nielson signed to Fat Possum Records and released his self-titled debut in 2011 to critical acclaim and success. A grueling tour schedule gave birth to the more complex and troubled sophomore album II which was released on Jagjaguwar Records in 2012 and saw them become a top, sought-after live act. In 2015, Nielson released the album Multi-Love which brought them a greater profile. Their aforementioned fourth album Sex & Food was released in April 2018, combining all of the different sounds they’re known for – from alternative R&B to dreamy disco – and reaffirms the vitality of Ruban’s voice in today’s musical landscape.
Watch “That Life” above and stay tuned for more from Unknown Mortal Orchestra coming soon.