Wednesday 24 January 2018

MGMT return solid ...but not Spectacular

John Meagher

John Meagher

MGMT

MGMT

(Columbia)

HHHII

Andrew VanWyngarden – one half of MGMT – offered an intriguing insight into his band's world view in an interview earlier this week: "We had this running joke between us that we wanted to get as hugely popular as possible and then really bombastically destroy it all."

The pair were as good as their word. After delivering two of the biggest, best loved songs of 2008 – the magnificent electro-pop tunes, Time to Pretend and Kids – they set about alienating as many fans as possible with a turgid second album, Congratulations, that was short on inspiration and long on self-indulgence.

Those hoping that this third album would see VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser return to the big crowd-pleasing anthems will be sorely disappointed. It is not an album that has nailed its colours to the commercial mast – and when one considers that the duo are capable of delivering superb, mass appeal pop, that is a great pity.

But those who abandoned the band after the giddy highs of that debut, Oracular Spectacular, would be doing themselves a disservice by dismissing the boundary-pushing electronica and psychedelic rock on this album too.

(Let them not forget that their debut boasted several tracks that were acquired listens.)

Unlike the messy second album, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser have discovered how to make experimental music that isn't mired by naval gazing – despite the former's playful comment to Rolling Stone that he didn't "even know if it's music we would want to listen to".

Current single Your Life is a Lie is a case in point – its fidgety arrangement and comparatively odd structure may not be immediately arresting, but it's a track that gets better the more it's played.

And Alien Days manages to be utterly charming despite its pretensions.

Key tracks: Your Life is a Lie; Alien Days

Irish Independent

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