Originally published and still available on Renowned For Sound (13/09/13).
MGMT were never conventional. ‘Normal’ may be an easier attribute to dismiss, but ‘conventional’ feels far more appropriate. These are not men to be pigeon-holed, and they are most definitely not men that want to be. Gone are the days of the pop song – those are definitely a thing of the past. These are songs composed whilst absorbing what (might) be up above, but ultimately looking downwards; the sound is intergalactic, though with foreboding undertones. Being as this is a self-titled album, one can only assume that this is how MGMT want to present themselves to the world, and this is by no means a straight forward concoction.
The interstellar osmosis of MGMT begins with the childlike spoken word intro of opening track Alien Days prior to descending into a plodding beat overladen with subtle synths, whilst Cool Song No. 2 makes like a forebodingly exotic post-apocalyptic premonition, its pounding percussion and eerie electronics being offset by a buzzing bass that is truly unnerving. Mystery Disease is easily one of the strongest tracks on offer here, as the band – comprised of Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden – manage to strike a soft spot in the whirring and beeping and the hooks that we know they are capable of, though here provided by a glitching synth instead of a typical chorus.
After this however, it gets harder to digest. Granted, Introspection is a welcome respite from the electro-overload, as is Your Love Is A Lie, it being the poppiest sibling out of this sequence of songs. However songs such as Astro-Mancy and I Love You Too, Death – whilst being lovingly arranged – are not exactly accessible, especially upon first listen, and especially for the casual spectator. Plenty Of Girls In The Sea is a silly little number that ambles along before suddenly switching tack and diving into a barrage of opposing electronic noise, whilst An Orphan Of Fortune meanders in its ambient noise.
It seems like, with the omnipresent expectation that the band faced in creating their post-Oracular Spectacular releases, MGMT have done everything that they can to shirk any further attention. They have had their taste of the pop-world, and they didn’t like it. Enforced experimentation and pending obscurity it is then, for the sake of a tranquil mind, for in crafting their self-titled album, MGMT have pushed far into the upper echelons of their imagination – however it is so densely experimental and artful that it raises questions as to whether it will translate well into a live setting. This is an album that – whilst it holds no ‘true’ singles – you can listen and absorb and recognize that it is, indeed, a good album. However, if you are looking for anthemic songs a la Time To Pretend, you had better scurry and look elsewhere, for in the words of VanWyngarden in Alien Days, ‘It is a blessing, but it’s also a curse’, and that definitely rings true in in regards to this album.
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