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The glimpse into Ruban Nielson's studio that adorns the cover of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's third record, Multi-Love, speaks volumes about what is contained within the album. Analog consoles and tape reels standout among a variety of instruments and knick-knacks, but all of it is cast in darkness. On the back wall, also obscured slightly by the shadows, are Nielson's first two albums as the principle creative force behind UMO. But this gloomy chamber of reflection is being invaded by an amorphous, psychedelic blob coming out of the ceiling. Its purple-orange hue is cast across the room, providing relief to the melancholic spirit of the room. It is this feeling that Nielson uses to set the stage of Multi-Love's cathartic and complex examination of polyamory.

Evoking two of the sixties preferred genres in soul and psychedelia, Nielson candidly lays out Multi-Love's thematic content on the first song, which happens to the title track. "Multi-love's got me on my knee," he sings. "We were one, then become three." This is about as clear-cut as the presentation of the album's narrative gets, but it serves as a terrific introduction to what UMO is seeking to provide listeners, both lyrically and musically. This soulful, sprawling ballad, along with much of the rest of the record, finds itself constantly nodding at the likes of Stevie Wonder and Prince, but Nielson seems keen to ride the party just a bit higher into space.

Multi-Love is chock full of weighty grooves and skilful funk all cast under the same purple-orange lava lamp palette as the album's cover. The album's centerpiece and highpoint, 'Can't Keep Checking My Phone,' pushes this formula to its poppy limits. The song is truly a masterstroke from Nielson and one of 2015's best songs. In a more fair and just universe, this shuffling disco track would be a massive hit, and a unique one at that as the singer laments about missing one of his loves while another stands right by him.

For an album that tackles a topic as contentious and difficult as polyamory, Nielson does a remarkable job of avoiding overwrought platitudes and otherwise safe outlets of addressing the issue. Instead, he makes himself quite candid throughout the whole record, but this is not without a caveat. Rather than dancing around the tricky narrative with his words, Nielson chose to hide behind his production, oftentimes reducing his already thin voice to a position in the background. But in turn, the trick is used rarely enough that it tends to make his lyrical candidness seem all the more authentic. This is just one of many underlying complexities that makes Multi-Love one of the headiest pop records in recent memory.

The end result of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's third outing is a intoxicating concoction of brooding psychedelic musings, complete with otherworldly synths and fluttering modulations, on one of the most complicated and divisive topics one could imagine a pop record taking on. Nielson should feel proud of this immense accomplishment, as he rarely shies away from addressing his own complexities and flaws. And it's all done under the shimmering disco ball of a basement drug party. Whether you want to think or not while your music plays, Multi-Love makes for one hell of a good time.

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