Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson's fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex and Food. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex and Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Neilson and his band visited pitching in throughout.
Sex and Food is the most eclectic and expansive Unknown Mortal Orchestra release yet, from the light-footed R&B of Hunnybee to the stomping flange of Major League Chemicals. If You’re Going to Break Yourself and Not in Love We're Just High chronicle the effects of drugs and addiction on personal relationships, while the lyrics Ministry of Alienation drip with modern-day paranoia like the silvery guitar tones that jewel the song's structure. The modern world, and all the thorny complications that come with living in it, loomed large on Ruban's mind while making Sex and Food.
Though he's not afraid to get topical throughout, as evidenced on the surprisingly boisterous American Guilt or the roomy-disco medication-meditation Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays. A statement of selflessness, to be sure-but make no mistake: Sex and Food reaffirms the vitality of Ruban's voice in today’s musical landscape.