After what seemed like a four-year hiatus after the underwhelming self-titled album of 2013, MGMT is back with a vengeance.
MGMT, or more commonly known as, “music you listen to while high on mushrooms,” became one of the most popular bands after their debut album, “Oracular Spectacular” came to earth and landed in 2006. By the summer of 2009, they were opening for living legend and acclaimed fan Paul McCartney. But by 2011, their new sound became old and somewhat unwanted. It felt forced to the dedicated cult following and no longer had the unique electronic pop that brought listeners back to the days of Pink Floyd – it was a total dud.
Fast forward to 2015, the band anounced another album – some were excited, others found it uninspiring after the last. Yet on Oct. 17, 2017, the band’s first single from their new album by the same name was released and “Little Dark Age” changed the realm of music and brought us back to the band’s success of 2009.
“Little Dark Age” is a breath of fresh air intertwined with modern electro and a throwback to the heavy synth-pop of the 1980s – a mix of two great genres weaved into one album MGMT desperately needed.
It is somewhat comparable to their 2010 album, “Congratulations,” more mature than “Oracular Spectacular” but true to their more mellow selves.
“Little Dark Age” screams Robert Smith, especially in the music video with lead singer Andrew Vanwyngarden rocking teased black hair, matching eyeliner and bold fuchsia lip while lurking about in the shadows of an old mansion. The heavy hit to the electro keyboard paired with Vanwyngarden’s eerie yet soothing vocals make for the perfect hit single to bring them back to the top and perhaps create a new genre altogether.
“Me and Michael,” the fourth song on the album, breaks into something completely different – rather than the gothic Tears For Fears aesthetic, the song jumps into something out of “The Breakfast Club” without the loved – but creepily corny – storyline. The guitar is softer but still lively enough to keep you focused on the lyrics that become darker as the song continues. There are just enough ’80s vintage snares and choruses filled with synthesizer melodramatics for it to be loved and not thrown into the garbage as a one-hit wonder everyone (sorry A Flock of Seagulls) often fears of becoming.
This is consciously acknowledged in “Hand It Over,” the final song on the album. The lyrics seem to make a statement of the difficulties in the business, or in fact, being a band that almost flunked out of Hollywood after just two albums.
More than anything, this album reminds us who MGMT is, was and forever will be no matter their success in the charts. Rather than trying to fit in with a fad or forcing a placeholder album into our hands, we get a full view of what goes on in Goldwasser and Vanwyngarden’s minds through and through, and not to mention the whole ’80s thing (did I mention I love the ’80s?). They stay true to themselves and give off the “this is us, and we’re pretty stoked about it” vibe which travels through the minds, bodies and souls of their listeners more than most music.
Although they’re no longer creating mind-blowing hits like “Electric Feel” or “Kids” that make us instantly get up and move even if we can’t dance, this is most certainly a start to something that will stick around long enough to be noticed, pinpointed and desired once again.
Grade: B+, Haunting lyrics mixed with unique and nostalgic sound make for a promising album.