Sep 23, 2013 Web Exclusive
MGMT continue their sustained dive into the sonic headspace of Oracular Spectacular's second half, presenting another collection of sprawling lysergic psych-rock weirdness. That this is where their hearts lie, sonically speaking, is certainly not a bad thing and there are plenty who want to follow them away from the storm of their titanic, infectious electro-pop into the setting sun of a latter-era Ween, with perhaps a little Brian Eno thrown in for good measure (this reviewer is one of those listeners).
The fact that they seem so resolutely divorced from any kind of discipline or editing in their aesthetic—two qualities that could draw out the hookiness they've sacrificed—is, unfortunately, what sets them apart from either of those artists. There's a lot of fluff on MGMT and yet, the lack of hooks doesn't even seem to be the problem. MGMT's catchier songs represent its weakest moments. "Plenty of Girls in the Sea" is the least hazy, most sing-a-long ready thing on here, and it's been a constant candidate for skipping upon each spin. First single "Alien Days" fares a bit better as does the punchy and aggressive "Your Life is a Lie" (recalling "Johnny on the Spot" from Ween's seminal The Mollusk).
The album's emotional epicenter and strongest points, however, reside toward the end in the three-song suite of "A Good Sadness," "Astro-Mancy," and "I Love You Too, Death." This beautifully weird and highly modern take on psychedelia highlights not only MGMT's extraordinary capabilities as musicians but the real melancholy they are able to inject into their songs. That's what truly made classic tracks like "Kids" and "Pieces of What" originally stick to the ribs, the fact that whatever the hell these guys were singing about, they really felt it. The three best songs on MGMT are not pop songs by any stretch ("Astro-Mancy" is quite nearly an instrumental) but they have that resonant core to them, nonetheless. If the rest of the album were as strong as those three songs, this would be a masterpiece and a powerful growth for the band. As it stands, they can at best serve as a taste of what's to come. (www.whoismgmt.com)
Author rating: 5.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10