MGMT - MGMT
MGMT was one of my most anticipated records for the year. The band’s colossal 2010 release, Congratulations, secured their role as contemporaries of The Flaming Lips and Animal Collective in the field of neo-psychedelia, so it was surely to be a hard act to follow. And the difficulty of hype did its work again with the band, with this release being given lukewarm reviews just as Congratulations was when trying to follow the surprise hit of their debut album. Fortunately, MGMT don’t seem very concerned with popular opinion, and so instead of trying to make a work reacting to all their critiques, it seems they have just made a record that they would enjoy listening to. It’s really fantastic to see a band be unwillingly hurled in to the media’s eye and come out of it just as genuine as ever. Because that is what this record is: an absolutely genuine expression of the wonderful, the psychedelic, the cosmic as well as the pain in life. On the masterpiece of the album, the gleefully weird opener “Alien Days,” it seems the mission statement of the record is expressed. The lyrics speak of the narrator’s times where normal life melded into the surreal, where he had to relearn the controls of his body and how to “Commandeer both his eyes.” At the end of the track, upon reflection he writes, “Those days taught me everything I know / How to catch a feeling / And when to let it go.” With this, I recognize the point of the song and the entire record as an attempt to recapture the trips of those days and spread the beauty within them to others, the listeners. In my opinion, they succeed with aplomb. Every song has vitality within it, from the odd (modal?) melody and harmonic choices on “Cool Song No. 2” to the speeding train of the krautrock-like “Astro-Mancy” to the brute force visual collage that makes up the “Your Life is a Lie” music video, each track pushes the listener toward excitement. And they all work as songs while doing so. None of the psych ambition distracted them from writing very memorable songs, with the singles sure to be caught in your head, so long as your head has the temperament of a dreamweaver. Though this is largely a psychedelic affair, “Plenty of Girls in the Sea,” stands out as a heartbreakingly poignant break-up song, one which touched me very personally with its confused sense of survival after a relationship. Overall, this album will take the gray, dull experience of the day to day life and colorfully transform it in to something fantastic and alien. You should let it do so.