MGMT: Little Dark Age (Columbia) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

MGMT

Little Dark Age

Columbia

Feb 15, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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After a four-and-a-half year break, MGMT is back with their fourth album, Little Dark Age. The duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, a bit downtrodden after the negative reception to the admittedly confused self-titled third album, now return to the sounds of synth-pop and '60s psychedelic pop with fantastic results. Little Dark Age is easily the group's best collection of songs since 2010's Congratulations, and maybe ever.

Stylistically, Little Dark Age is a hearkening back to the style of MGMT's debut, Oracular Spectacular. On that album, the singles were big indie-pop hits and the rest of the tracks were swirling psychedelic tunes. That's largely the model they follow here; "Little Dark Age," "When You Die," and "Me and Michael," featured all in a row on the tracklist, are the poppiest stretch of Little Dark Age. Meanwhile, opener "She Works Out Too Much," with its funny lyrics and bouncy beat, wears its Ariel Pink inspiration on its sleeve. "TSLAMP" is an all-too-relatable kiss-off to "time spent looking at my phone," soundtracked by spacious, rhythmic production.

MGMT also clearly have some tricks up their sleeves. "One Thing Left to Try" is surprisingly anthemic, and features some of Little Dark Age's best lyrics, seemingly about a struggle with suicidal ideation: "There's one thing left to try/If you want to change your life/Today I left those thoughts behind, behind/Over and over, you die just to feel alive." It's startling, but welcome, to hear naked sincerity from a band whose trippy, left-of-center impulses usually threaten to overwhelm lyricism or meaning. Just before that song is "Days That Got Away," a dreamy instrumental track that floats between chillwave and anonymous Soundcloud vaporwave.

Little Dark Age is a welcome return of MGMT's pop instincts, but it rarely shies away from the duo's love of adventurous psychedelia, either. It's perhaps the best indie-rock album of the year so far. (www.whoismgmt.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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