Massachusetts Daily Collegian

MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

MGMT looks to the past and future

%28MGMT+Official+Facebook%29
(MGMT Official Facebook)

(MGMT Official Facebook)

(MGMT Official Facebook)

By Ryan Cotreau, Collegian Correspondent

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


Email This Story






MGMT hearkens back to the infectious synth-pop grooves of its early days in the most cohesive and exciting effort since its debut. If you haven’t listened to MGMT since “Kids” or “Electric Feel,” “Little Dark Age” is the perfect opportunity to dive back in.

The story behind MGMT goes something like this: Bouncing off the enormous success of its first three late-2000s hits—the groovy psychedelic pop anthems “Electric Feel,” “Kids” and “Time to Pretend”—MGMT became disillusioned with mainstream success and set out to release a far more experimental, weird and ultimately less mainstream record with 2010’s “Congratulations.” The record was met with a generally positive critical reception, but a less than enthusiastic reaction from the fan base they built with their prior hits.

Their following album, 2013’s “MGMT” continued further down the rabbit hole of strange experimentation; only this time, even music critics had lost interest, and the album was released without much fanfare.

To this day, most people only know MGMT from the strength of its first three singles, and while that’s mostly due to an intentional decision by the band to move away from the sound that brought them so much initial success, their new record is indicative of a change of heart for the band. With “Little Dark Age,” MGMT has rediscovered how to write a catchy pop hook, and they manage to do so without sacrificing any of the experimental quirks that characterize their later work. The resulting set of tracks acts as the most exciting MGMT release in years.

On “Little Dark Age,” MGMT takes on the trappings of modern technology with playful irreverence. The album opener, “She Works Out Too Much,” adorned with all sorts of vintage synthesizers, is about the vapidness of Tinder, taking a jab at the idea of swiping in search for love, or anything substantial really. “TSLAMP,” one of the album’s biggest highlights, is a lament to wasted time spent doing nothing in particular besides scrolling through feeds on your phone. “You should come with me/We can lose ourselves in nothing/Copy faces from the feed/And then try to turn them into something,” lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden echoes in the final chorus.

The themes presented throughout the album certainly aren’t unexplored territory. In fact, in recent years, the repercussions of an always-on, always-online culture have been a constant topic in music, regardless of genre. The topic’s familiarity works in MGMT’s favor incredibly well however, as it gives them the opportunity to put its own unique spin on it without ever getting too ahead of themselves. Considering some of the band’s previous output, like their bloated and messy 2013 self-titled record, the simpler tone of “Little Dark Age,” along with nearly everything else contained on the record, was a welcome surprise.

Even in the album’s darkest moments, MGMT’s sense of humor isn’t lost, and the juxtaposition of cheerful psychedelic pop and brooding lyrics add a ton of character to each of the album’s ten tracks. Many times throughout the album, the lyrics come across as sarcastic or facetious in tone, making it hard to pin down whether or not MGMT is truly in anguish or simply relishing in absurdity. Nonetheless, the more tender moments, like album-closer “Hand it Over,” manage to find a way to fit in with the ridiculous callbacks to 80s glitter pop of “Me and Michael” and still form a cohesive whole.

MGMT’s ability to mix simple synth-pop with the experimental, and despondence with unabashed absurdity is what makes them, at their best, such a fantastic listen. With “Little Dark Age,” they not only found a way to please all sides of their increasingly split fan base, but also manage to come up with a set of hooks that will get stuck inside your head for weeks to come after your first listen. Whether you’re due for some catchy pop numbers or you’re a casual fan who wants to see what the band has been up to since their “Kids” days, “Little Dark Age” won’t disappoint.

Ryan Cotreau can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’”

  1. Dylan on February 24th, 2018 12:47 am

    Couldn’tve said it better meself kid

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    Les hommes peuvent aussi être anorexiques

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    五个你今天就能做的减压方法

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    Town of Amherst dedicates new trail in honor of Joseph G. Gavin Jr.

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    UMass researchers reduce population of invasive moth species

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    Police Log: Friday, Sept. 14 – Sunday, Sept. 16

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    A-10 men’s soccer notebook: No. 15 Fordham earns draw against Marist

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    Ryan Bamford discusses state of UMass athletics

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    An expanded role for Rebeca Frisk has meant more success for UMass women’s soccer

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    UMass looks to prove rankings wrong in A-10 opener vs. Duquesne

  • MGMT recaptures the memorable synth-pop of its early days in fourth LP ‘Little Dark Age’

    Archives

    Fighting fake news starts with you