New album ‘MGMT’ is no ‘Oracular Spectacular’

By Emma Sandler

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Many fans of MGMT were expecting a return to the “Kids”, or “Electric Feel” sound for the group’s latest record, but that is not the album they received. MGMT’s eponymously self-titled third album was released for streaming on Sept. 11, and for sale on Sept. 17.

schmetterlinh/ Flickr

“MGMT” is dark, with tracks like “Your Life is a Lie,” and “I Love You Too, Death.” At times, the album is wonderfully weird, but also deeply confused.

The first track of the album, “Alien Days,” was released as a single on April 20 and is a refreshing change from the retro-soul-pop music listeners have been hearing from Daft Punk and Robin Thicke as of late. As though the Beach Boys sang a song from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Alien Days” has the perfect balance of psychedelic rock and pop. As the title implies, the track also has a nice, spacey and laid back vibe to it. This song is as close to “Kids” as it’s going to get with this album, and after it there’s a steady decline into the bizarre and befuddled that follows.

“Cool Song No. 2,” leads the listener to believe they might be on the verge of beginning to understand this new album. The music video for the song stars “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams as a drug dealer who hunts for plants to turn into drugs. But Williams takes up a friendship with a plant version of the Elephant Man, who has been mutated by the drugs before a bleak finale to the video.

With an ethereal haunting tune reminiscent of Pink Floyd, “Cool Song No. 2” stands out, but many of the songs on “MGMT” lack depth and end up sounding unsure. Songs like “Astro-Mancy” and “I Love You Too, Death,” contain strange hollow beats that are jarring more than anything. “An Orphan of Fortune” in particular sounds strangely similar to the intro song of the film “A Clockwork Orange,” but painfully slowed down.

While their second album, “Congratulations” tried too hard to be groundbreaking and deep, this album does not appear to try at all. The weak melodies of most of the songs show what can only be a lack of effort and dedication to the overall album. And for the songs that contain dashes of other artists, in particular their cover of “Introspection” by Faine Jade comes off as imitation rather than homage.

There is a brief pickup at the end of the album with “Plenty of Girls in the Sea”, but even this is not spectacular enough to reach transcendence. And their song “Your Life is a Lie” manages to be enjoyable despite bleak lyrics such as, “Count your friends on your hands/Now look again/ They’re not your friends.”

Die-hards of psychedelia and MGMT may say that you simply don’t understand the band’s artistic direction, but in reality it’s just an overstuffed psychedelic melodrama of an album.

Emma Sandler can be reached at [email protected].