'II' is due on February 5 via Jagjaguwar
Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Sky Ferreira remix was no fluke. In stretching out the atmospheric-pop singer's "Everything Is Embarrassing," UMO maestro Ruban Nielson was already working with a song bearing the R&B-conscious fingerprints of Solange collaborator Blood Orange. On "So Good at Being in Trouble" (via Pitchfork), UMO veer back more toward the type of old-school soul tributes favored by Jamie Lidell, Mayer Hawthorne, or Richard Swift, whose arrangements retain a vintage grit absent from the more commercially successful retro-soul of, say, Adele.
"So good at being in trouble / So bad at being in love," Nielson croons in a high register that brings out a rich catch to his voice. A spacious, indie-scuffed backing of guitar, bass, and drums recalls previous UMO hits like the 2011 self-titled debut's "Ffunny Ffriends." Nielson recently told SPIN, "I've definitely gotten better at getting the sound I want." Here, that sound melds classic and highly contemporary in a way that should suit the Instagram generation well.