Connecticut hippie-rockers MGMT have meandered back onto the scene with their self-titled new album, MGMT. A wild psilocybin orchestra of a composition featuring the singles Alien Days, Your Life is A Lie, and Cool Song No. 2, MGMT has been getting tons of hype over in North America.
With MGMT’s progression from 2008’s Oracular Spectacular to sophomore album Congratulations, we saw them grow from writingindie-pop anthems to crafting their own brand of synthesizer neo-psychedelia. On MGMT, they have landed their Jefferson Starship into full-blown psychedelic territory. The genre fits them well; Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser (the band’s ringleaders), are some of the most imaginative musicians out there. As well as that, MGMT sees little record company influence, and quite a lot of acid influence – the way these two seem to work best. This album is cacophonous, it’s sound ranging and limitless; it is a Pink Floyd recording session tossed in a blender with a dash of Grateful Dead and a hint of Bowie. Yet somehow, it ends up flowing remarkably well. The tunes sound effortless, melodious, and as if they aim to be wiser than the listener. But most of all, MGMT sounds entirely unique. Although one can hear the influence of psychedelia’s forefathers, this album will never be mistaken for anything but classic MGMT.
Starting out with the single Alien Days, we can already sense what kind of record this is going to be. Andrew VanWyngarden duets with a robotic child’s voice atop a squealing theramin-esque electric guitar, while wasps buzz and bicycle wheels spin in the background. An acoustic guitar creeps its way in, and before long the song becomes as confusing as it is beautiful. Layers upon layers of instruments and sound effects mesh together, while Andrew half-whispers lyrics like “And in the summer, virgin visions, mindless humming, numbers can’t decide if the day’s supposed to smile”. From the oddly euphoric Alien Days, things take a change: Cool Song No. 2 hits the listener like a ton of bricks, with an African drum intro and heavy bass. A deep piano and techno cymbal beat accompany, mixing with shakers and the occasional bit of maniacal laughter. It’s all very strange and mesmerizing. From there on in, the album continues to evolve and surprise. Every song is different, but connected to the central aura of confusion and mystery. From the squeaking Mystery Disease, to the brief and jarring Your Life is a Lie, to the disjointedly cheery electronica tune Plenty of Girls In The Sea, “MGMT” keeps you interested, despite a few filler tracks later on.
Plainly, MGMT is a great record, and quite possibly the band’s most creative work yet. Although it is likely to isolate them from many of their Kids era indie fans (much like Congratulations did), they are evolving like any timeless band does. It’s great to see Andrew, Ben, and co. developing their own sound more and more with each album. Psychedelia is making a comeback, with other bands like Tame Impala and Temples following in MGMT’s footsteps. Perhaps this is pure fan bias, but they seem to be paving a pretty good path.