Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Can’t Keep Checking My Phone

2nd January 2024 · 2010s, 2015, Music

Sometimes a song seeps its way into your consciousness and just lodges there. Such was the way with this one by the Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Everything about it is instantly intriguing, and it’s hard to know what’s strangest: the song itself, or its abstract lyrics, or its eye-catching video, or the cryptic captions that accompany it.

I mean, obviously the answer is all of them.

The song itself is introduced by a gentle horn melody and the strum of an acoustic guitar before picking up pace with the rhythmic clatter of woodblocks (castanets?) and an addictive bassline.

Then those vocals, reminiscent of Green’s once Scritti Politti went down the blue-eyed soul route, articulating those peculiar lyrics (eating crickets, reversing traffic lights and holograms in the universe) before breaking into a catchy chorus.

And we’ve all had that feeling – that compulsion to check our phones, just to see whether we’ve missed an important call, or text, or email.

Dimitri Basl’s video captures just the right tone to illustrate the vision of Ruban Nielsen and Jacob Portrait, the creative core of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

The band began in Portland, Oregon, after Nielsen moved there from his native New Zealand and joined forces with local bass player Jacob Portrait.

They had added Ruban’s brother Kody Nielsen by the time they recorded this for their third studio album Multi-Love in 2015.