As a band concept they are one of those that starts as high as possible and tends to go down as the surprise factor and innovation tend to die. After four heavy focused Indie albums, from an “Oracular Spectacular” in 2007 totally breaking the pre-established concepts of Indie to a ridiculously repetitive homonymous album as their fourth and last work before “LDA”. After understanding the downslope they changed. This age is now darker than ever in all possible literal sense and they have gone darker as well by filling their sonority with serious and imposing synths clashing the Indie towards Pop. The result? Not the MGMT we know.
However in this case, this is all we wanted. A new life to a band that was already the responsible for a whole era of Indie anthems and transform it into a experimental pop band which is way more of a challenge for them and certainly better to hear nowadays than any of what they try to put forward in their last works. Primarily formed in 2002 in Connecticut, Andrew and Ben were just showing each other what they could do with an instrument and a band started urging which after a lot of live performances finally signed in 2006 a deal with Columbia and released a year later one of the most spectacular albums of Indie/Psych Pop Album of the last decade, “Oracular Spectacular”, with such tunes as “Kids”, “Electric Feel” and opening up with “Time to Pretend” their three most popular songs to date still.
After that they released in 2010 “Congratulations” which could have not come up with more anticipation. After being named “Top 10 Bands to Watch” in 2008 after releasing their first album which had an immense audience appraisal for a first album, featuring soundtracks of movies to these days still. However they hid from this second album that sonic happiness from their sound, introduce a new Serf Rock approach and lost a lot of their audience there. Going darker was not expected from such a band releasing “Happy Anthems” such as “Electric Feel” and only a remarkable “Flash Delirium” is still memorable probably due to a lot of Fifa playing involved back in 2010.
In an attempt of getting back to the roots and their initial golden days they released in 2013 an homonymous album. And if there is a great increase in all the production again with Dave Fridmann back to the controls of it as he did in 2007, there is not much more to point out. Experimentalists as always but this time the trip was to introspective (there is a song in the album called “introspection”…) as one could predict by the album’s name. The catchy chorus were gone, the happiness of the guitars was dead and the bass was really boring.
And its among this “Little Dark Age” that MGMT, as a duo, found themselves in 2018. Not only with the World surrounding them as well as with their relationship now distance based. It is considered risky, after releasing two albums totally ignored by their audience, to release after a five year break a new album made mainly through email. They met of course, in order to record and align the main details however all those first sparks were not as authentic. And this is probably the only thing one can feel disappointed at this album. Apart from that, be ready for their second best album!
It is not easy for a band to keep reinventing itself inside of the Indie-Psych scene which has high requirements posed by demanding fans. However if there would be a way of reinventing the more than abused Psych-Pop that they were as well responsible to bring about again, eleven years ago, it would be in this shape. Surely their most hardcore fans are now gone. Put this album next to their previous two (that only hardcore fans would support) and you can be anything less than really confused. Now if we take a glance at their big audience, that fills festivals and wants to sing again “Kids” full heartedly, finds in “Little Dark Age” a then again rather dark (not redundant!) tone although the dance is back as the bass gets more responsibilities.
The album starts with “She Works Out Too Much” based on a tinderesque problematic that unveils along a weird and clearly psychedelic tone that is not as much of a predictor of this album as the second track, “Little Dark Age” homonymous with the album and exhibiting a powerful synth bass that unveils that Psych and Indie have now organically blended into MGMT’s music which is now more than ever beautiful Synth-Pop. The third track “When You Die” is a great example of a combination of what was MGMT before and after their first album however followed by “Me and Michael” clearly a proof of concept to this new genre approach almost resembling the beautiful Japanese Rock from the 80’s. If one wants to go back to the spacial trip rock they were spreading around their three albums go straight to “Days That Got Away”. If one wants to go back to the 80’s and just hear a tune from that time produced a couple of months ago hear “One Thing Left To Try”. For lasts in a quite more choral way and with a beautiful end to something as unexpected as it is good, we have “Hand It Over” where one can even hear the space ship leaving as the album ends. What a beautiful year has 2018 been. And if one wants the good old MGMT the only way to listen to them is picking up the 07’ album.
However if you want to hear what they are doing now, which is also quite great when compared with their previous two go ahead. You will be happy this time!