Edge, Music, Reviews

MGMT tries darker sound in third album

There was a lot of excitement surrounding the release of MGMT’s newest, self-titled album Tuesday. However, those who loved the lighthearted, dynamic tracks on “Oracular Spectacular” will quickly be thrown off by this album, which moves away from fun, trippy effects to something deeper, and, in some cases, more sinister. Though still rich with effects and unique sounds, “MGMT,” the band’s third record, contains a dark quality that many may find off-putting.

There is an instant departure into the other-worldly quality of the opening track, “Alien Days.” The song screeches to a start with trippy background noise and a child’s voice singing, “Sometimes the windows combine with the seams in a way that twitches on a peak at the place where the spirit was slain.”

The song then switches to a simpler sound with lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden taking over the vocals. However, the sharp, ethereal opening will stay with listeners, leaving them unsettled.

This unrest weaves through many of the songs, such as the track “Your Life is a Lie.” The song has simple, sometimes ineffective lyrics, but content that is vaguely disturbing, with lines such as, “Try not to cry/you will survive/on your own.”

There are certain tracks, such as “Cool Song No. 2,” where the background effects and distortion drown out the vocals, making some of the lyrics tough to hear. However, this track contains great percussive style that is present in several other tracks, including “Your Life is A Lie,” which has a steady beat punctuated by a cowbell, and “Astro-Mancy,” which opens with a tribal-sounding drumline.

The eighth track, “I Love You Too, Death,” is one of the CD’s most captivating songs, despite its off-putting name. The opening includes a variety of sounds, from chimes to something like the whirring of machinery. The lyrics are still often disturbing, but more provocative, with lines such as, “Cashiers won’t deduct the pain, loneliness sleeps on the couch.” Near the end, the track both speeds up and derails, calling to mind the image of a creepy carnival scene from a movie.

This transitions rather oddly into the most upbeat song of the record – “Plenty of Girls in the Sea,” a lighthearted, electro-pop track with an optimistic sound reminiscent of a ‘60s jukebox tune.

Though there are many instances of artistry and technique on “MGMT,” anyone who once jammed out to “Electric Feel” may be disappointed with this dark departure. There are many cases of expressive lyricism, and the tracks are well-developed, particularly the percussion. However, the disturbing themes and off-putting vibes of certain songs will leave many fans unsettled, not to mention disappointed.


September 22, 2013


Marlee Lisker

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “MGMT tries darker sound in third album”

  1. Melodie says:

    I actually love Cool Song No. 2 and don’t think the distortions make the lyrics indiscernible. They also just put out a video for it that works so well with their new vibe: http://smarturl.it/MGMTCSNo.2

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