MGMT Releases New Album: Little Dark Age Review

It has been a decade since Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, members of music group MGMT, released their debut album “Oracular Spectacular”. The tongue-in-cheek record was written in their senior year of college, and mocked the excesses of rock n’ roll. Though many things have changed over the last ten years, the directionless anxiety and poor prospects of college seniors remains the same, and the live fast die young rhetoric has never held more appeal, “Yeah it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do?/Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?”

Their next two albums, “Congratulations” and the eponymous “MGMT” were, at the best, detours for the band. They lost their broad appeal with the space-rock sound, though their move away from pioneering indie rock seemed purposeful. However, “Little Dark Age” is the comeback MGMT needed to stay relevant beyond the occasional “Electric Feel” play for nostalgia’s sake.

The band’s fourth album has trimmed down on the distracting bells and whistles off the previous albums, creating streamlined synth-pop tracks. With considerable influence from occasional collaborator Ariel Pink, the album has a distinct 80s feel. MGMT has recovered their ability to write a hook, and “Me and Michael” would not feel out of place in a Brat Pack movie. The only instrumental track, “Days that Got Away,” makes chillwave cool again with a variety of psychedelic rock synths.

Though the songs are undeniably cool, “She Works Out Too Much” (a song critiquing dating apps) and “TSLAMP” (Time Spent Looking at My Phone) have the heavyhanded satire of a Luddite parent who types out “http://www.” in the Google search bar. The message alienates their younger audiences, the ones who songs like “Kids” and “The Youth” still appeal to for their anti-adulthood sentiment.

What is abundantly clear in MGMT’s discography is that they make the music they want and have fun doing it. But for the first time since “Oracular Spectacular,” what MGMT wants and what a broad listening audience want meet in the middle. MGMT seems to recognize their loss of fans who just wanted a catchy indie song in the closer “Hand It Over.” “If we lose our touch, it won’t mean much.” Well they certainly haven’t lost their touch, and if their indie fanbase has complaints about their new psych-pop album, as “When You Die” puts it: “Go fuck yourself/ you hear me right.”

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