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Released: Sep 17, 2013
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Synthpop
Number Of Tracks: 10
Take one part synthpop and mix with two parts psychedelic rock and blend well with one part darkly-tinged trip-hop and this will get you somewhere in the neighborhood on what to expect from "MGMT."
MGMTFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 18, 2013 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: MGMT formed roughly around 2002, originally under the name The Management, though they didn't tour very extensively until 2005 and then weren't signed to a label until 2006. Their first album, "Oracular Spectacular," was released in 2007 to critical acclaim as well as commercial success. Since that time the band has continued to travel down the crazy winding road of their quirky music. "MGMT" is the third album by the band and contains 10 tracks with a runtime of just under 45 minutes. The album comes with "The Optimizer" with the enhanced album package in all formats, which provides a visual element to go along with the music, but unfortunately I was only provided with the audio for review.
The album opens up with the track "Alien Days" which begins with a haunting synth melody and a child singing but quickly turns to an acoustic psychedelic track that sounds like may have come from a collaboration between Pink Floyd and David Bowie. The next song is "Cool Song No. 2" which is carried by an almost tribal drumbeat and bassline, the lyrics sang low and accompanied by a piano. "Mystery Disease" is the third track from the album and immediately comes across as energetic and dark and manages to maintain that vibe throughout. The next track, "Introspection," is a cover of a track by Faine Jade that was originally released in 1968. The MGMT version even uses a little bit of tremolo on their guitars and turn the track into an interesting aural experience. "Your Life Is a Lie" reminds me vaguely of early Mothers Of Invention tracks, but at the same time is possibly the most lyrically dark song on the album. "A Good Sadness" is next up, which kind of evolves from noise into music and turns into a dark dream-like track. "Astro-Mancy" is another dream-like track, but with a strong undercurrent of melancholy. "I Love You Too, Death" is next up and is made up of a surreal and dark soundscape with the lyrics kind of rambling along throughout the song. "Plenty of Girls in the Sea" starts out with a familiar drum motif that carries the song along as it is joined by a really odd almost theremin-like melody. The album closes out with the track "An Orphan of Fortune," which is largely carried a sinister synth melody and groove heavy drums until somewhere in the middle area where the track sounds more like a goth rendition "in the style of" Radiohead, but creating a suitably creepy close to the album. This album could be potentially polarizing for fans of MGMT, but you have to respect the adventurousness of the band. // 8
Lyrics: Andrew VanWyngarden is credited with the vocals on the album, though there are some uncredited sources in there as well, or potentially these are vocal samples manipulated by Ben Goldwasser. Andrew does an excellent job creating that perfect haunting quality in his vocals which does so much for carrying the vibe in the songs from the album. The lyrics from the album go from surreal to creepy to narrative. As a small sample of the creepy/quirky lyrics, here are some lyrics from the track "Your Life Is a Lie": "here's the deal/ open your eyes/ your life is a lie/ don't say a word/ I'll tell you why/ you're living a lie/ you're living a lie." With each listen to the album I make out some more of the lyrics and it just continues to get weirder with each listen - but in a good way. // 7
Overall Impression: While I listened to both of MGMT's previous albums neither one quite won me over, but I'm enjoying their self-titled album quite a bit. The album as a whole could be loosely described mixing a synthpop group into a blender with heavy influences from several early psychedelic bands as well as early goth rock. A huge bonus is while you might categorize MGMT loosely as synthpop, there is actual real guitar and real vocals included in the songs. My favorite tracks on the album after about a dozen listens are "Alien Days," "Your Life Is a Lie," "I Love You Too, Death," "Plenty of Girls in the Sea" and "An Orphan of Fortune," though that list is drastically different than my favorite tracks from my first listen through. Bottom line is this is my favorite album so far this year that could potentially be called synthpop. // 8