MGMT - MGMT (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
WHERE most bands would have sought to capitalise on the formula that helped their debut album, Oracular Spectacular to achieve such global success in 2008, thanks to singles Time To Pretend and Electric Feel, MGMT have strived to push themselves creatively… and as far away from the mainstream as can possibly be achieved.
2010’s Congratulations did away with the distinctive electro-pop of its predecessor in favour of something more psychedelic. And three albums in, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden have done it again.
MGMT is the type of LP that defies easy pigeon-holing or throw-away criticism. It’s born out of the psychedelic tendencies that marked Congratulations but it also seeks to push the duo to expand the boundaries of modern pop music still further.
This has a potentially alienating effect. For while there are moments to enjoy, this is knowingly all over the shop with self-indulgent running times, late ’60s and early ’70s influences running amok, woozy electronics that have the habit of doing their own thing, and surreal flights of fancy.
Opening track Alien Days sounds like something Air might concoct if on acid. It’s a head trip fuelled by psyched out, falsetto vocals, astral electronics and a vaguely melodic chorus that somehow just about works until drifting a little out of control around the four minute mark.
But Cool Song No.2 is as far removed from cool as you can get despite opening amid a promising beat. The vocals, though, are once again trippy, the fusion of beats and pianos a little disorientating. The track never really settles into a satisfying melodic structure.
And the same can be said for large sections of the album. There’s ambition in the instrumental arrangements and plenty of potential. But the majority are too sprawling and too all over the place to really win over any doubts you may have about them.
The exceptions arrive in the form of Introspection, a rousing cover of a little known Faine Jade track that is steeped in retro values and a sharper sense of psycehdelic melody, the fuzz rock of Your Life Is A Lie (which clocks in at a brisk two minutes), and Astro-Mancy, which drops some of the most rousing beat structures and has a futuristic, late-night kind of vibe that’s oddly addictive.
But other moments such as I Love You To Death and A Good Sadness just get on your nerves.
Overall, this makes for a disjointed listen – occasionally inspired but mostly unsatisfying.
Download picks: Astro-Mancy, Alien Days, Your Life Is A Lie, Introspection