Blue Record comes at the end of a year of hard work for Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielson. It started with the release of their second album II in February and the intervening months have been dominated by touring and promotion for it. Blue Record is an entirely acoustic affair, and, considering that Nielson only started to learn acoustic guitar last year, and pushed himself to develop these tracks to further the promotion of II so that he could play them in the various acoustic sessions he was offered, it can be seen as the culmination of a year's hard work.

The first three tracks on the EP are tracks from II adapted to acoustic format. Considering that a large part of UMO's appeal is the roiling riffs that Nielson lays out, it's perhaps a little surprising that they make the transformation so well. Nielson's voice isn't his strongest asset, but with less going on around it on these tracks, it becomes the focal point, and shines rather well for the most part. This is especially on the new version of 'Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)' which opens up the collection. It's helped by some studio trickery, in which a second vocal line doubles his voice, at times singing in unison and at times magically cooing in between the lines. 'Faded In The Morning' is perhaps the most surprising success, since it has one of the most snarling guitar lines in its original version, but becomes a pleasant little head-bobber here. The acoustic version of 'So Good At Being In Trouble' is much rawer than the album version. On II he sounded cool and offhand as he recollected the tale of a girl who is "so bad at being in love," but on this version he sounds passionate and embroiled in the complicated emotions, much more directly linked to the song's protagonist. Once again Nielson's ear for studio trickery is shown off here as the main vocal line echoes as on a distant plane, giving the song a strange, luring aura.

The final two tracks are covers, starting with Nielson's version of 'Swing Lo Magellan' by The Dirty Projectors. The song is already based around acoustic guitar so this is more or less a direct copy. David Longstreth's lyrics are much more dense and wordy than the things that Nielson usually writes, and a lot of the words are lost in his falsetto here. More suited to UMO's style is the second cover choice; Beck's 'Puttin' It Down'. Once again there's not much change from the original, but the simplistic chorus of "you're putting it down but you treat me like a clown and I don't wanna be funny," meets UMO's own style more easily. Nielson meets Beck's oddball style halfway by adding a strange pitch-shifting to deepen his voice and a little bit of a tape warping effect half way through the song.

Blue Record is by no means a necessity for a casual listener, but at 16 minutes it's a breezy and fun listen. For Big UMO fans, this should be seen as a part of a complete collection and a deserved victory lap after a year of hard work from the band.