Words About Music
Back in 2007, two young men called Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser made what they probably see as one of the biggest mistakes of their lives. Actually, make that three of the biggest mistakes of their lives. That year, they digitally released their debut album “Oracular Spectacular” under the name MGMT, and it went on to achieve critical acclaim and buzz all throughout 2008 and 2009. Most of that was due to three infectiously catchy psychedelic synthpop singles, “Kids,” “Time To Pretend,” and “Electric Feel.” Three excellent pop songs that would later define pretty much MGMT’s entire career, even when they tried to venture into more experimental territory. MGMT wanted to be Animal Collective, but accidentally became Phoenix. And they are still plagued by those three songs six years later. In 2010, they dropped their sophomore album “Congratulations,” which is much better than “Oracular Spectacular,” yet it is commonly ignored by fans because it lacks those pop hooks, which was intentional. Another three years have passed, and MGMT have even resorted to removing “Kids” from their live setlist, much to the disappointment to the casual listeners who only want to hear that song. Yet still, even as MGMT plunge deeper into colorful psychedelic noise-pop sounds and further away from traditional synthpop, all people want to hear is that famous synthesized riff.
So far, MGMT’s self-titled third album seems to be their worst reviewed album yet, and I can definitely see why some people think this album isn’t as good as their other material. For one, MGMT have once again eschewed traditional pop songwriting. You’d be hard pressed to find a single song on here that would get as much airplay/attention as “Kids.” But that’s okay, because MGMT are not a one-trick pony, or a three-trick pony. They still make very interesting, textured, neon-colored psychedelic rock music. If we compare MGMT’s career with Radiohead’s, then MGMT are currently in the “The Bends” stage. Maybe in three years we can expect an “OK Computer” or “Kid A” from a band that some would say desperately needs one.
There are definitely some songs on here that definitely deserve the negative reviews. “Introspection,” “Your Life Is A Lie,” and “Plenty of Girls In The Sea” all sound like failed “Sgt. Pepper’s”-era Beatles experiments. Other than those three songs, though, “MGMT” is a truly solid release. I especially enjoy “Alien Days,” “Astro-Mancy,” and “An Orphan of Fortune,” which all show MGMT at the best I’ve ever heard them, although I do wish “An Orphan of Fortune” didn’t end so abruptly.
If you ask me, “Congratulations” is still MGMT’s best album. It was a huge risk for MGMT and if it turned out badly then their entire career could have been totally ruined. Thankfully, they still continue to this day and make some really great music when they’re not making bad music. “MGMT” is a little bit spotty in places and there are some tracks I could definitely do without, but it’s a solid album that is way better than the Pitchfork review would lead you to believe, if you care at all about Pitchfork.
SCORE – 7.3
FAVORITE TRACKS – Alien Days, Cool Song No. 2, Mystery Disease, A Good Sadness, Astro-Mancy, An Orphan of Fortune