Ruban Nielson and Jake Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra pride themselves on writing glamorous psych-pop ballads of love and harmony, marrying Nielson’s strained falsetto with Portrait’s infectious bass playing under multiple layers of warm production. Their newest release, Sex & Food, unapologetically dives into themes of human desire and humility, showcasing versatility with garage songs like “American Guilt” next to dance pieces like “Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays.”
“Hunnybee” starts out with a mystifying orchestral intro before breaking into the verse riff, bass guitar plucking away in an ecstatic disco fever. Nielson’s unorthodox guitar processing adds to the mysteriousness of UMO’s sound, almost as if he’s playing an electric singing saw from the year 2070. The track’s hook is a magically simple take on vintage pop music, à la Jackson 5 or Stevie Wonder, horns and licks included. “Hunnybee” possesses a carefree, immaculate aura with effortless instrumental prose and vision, begging to be listened to on repeat. Rarely does a song feel so immediately special as this one does, with four and a half minutes of audial paradise made to feel about half as long. Unknown Mortal Orchestra couldn’t have made a better case for a resurgence of disco-tinged R&B if they tried to.