"They have consistently warped and experimented with their sound, to produce electric and exciting music"Columbia Records

In the official video for ‘Little Dark Age’, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser invite you into their Rocky Horror Fantasy. Magic, smoke, sliced pomegranates: MGMT have always been a band that enjoy not making sense. That's where the fun lies - and with their fourth-studio album, they return to the unique technicolour sound that makes them so fascinating.

As a band, their music as changed. Their self-titled release,  MGMT was a strange album, not in a bad way. But it was strange: jarring at times, almost deliberately nonsensical. ‘Your Life is a Lie’ was a nihilistic declaration preceding any wax-lyrical from Father John Misty. The album had a general ‘fuck it’ attitude to it. In the context of MGMT’s career, it seems somewhat understandable. As a band both blessed and cursed by the success of their debut, pop-friendly songs ‘Kids’ and ‘Time to Pretend’ effectively locked MGMT into an indie-purgatory, being relegated to the ranks of Vampire Weekend’s ‘A-Punk’ or ‘Last Night’ by the Strokes.

"They are not afraid of sudden change – oscillations between instruments and intensity"

But MGMT’s catalogue is genuinely captivating, and Little Dark Age marks a sparkling return. They consistently warp and experiment with their sound, to produce electric and exciting music. They are not afraid of sudden change – oscillations between instruments and intensity. As a collection, it is like you are flicking through strange television channels, experiencing a few minutes of varying frequencies. ‘She Works Out Too Much’ samples an exercise video, whilst ‘Me and Michael’ feels like the title track to an 80s brat-pack movie. It is a picturesque delight, and as VanWyndergarden muses about “imaginary bombs raining down from the clouds”, the album once again shape-shifts through a story of synth. 

The title track is a gem of the album – it at first seems to  parody intense synth  - but it goes beyond this. It evokes Heaven 17 or Soft Cell with its angst and moodiness, but elevates itself in the swell of the chorus. It somehow transcends itself, and you get this sense that MGMT's music and lyrics always strive to go beyond. The result is this electric alienation, and a feeling of incomprehension: “I grieve in stereo, the stereo sounds strange”.


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‘Days that Got Away’ is a brilliant, chill-wave, funk-infused instrumental. It’s a stand-out, sounding like a limbo between a level-up in Mario and 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'. It takes you on this strange daydream, yet remains a track with such clear energy and direction within it. The vocal variation of the album is also interesting, ‘Hand it Over’ utilizes a choral backing – whilst in ‘When You’re Small’, VanWyngarden’s drawl is both hypnotic and somewhat omnious. In dreamy-psych track, ‘SFTS’, his voice leads into a mystical trance of synth.

Little Dark Ages sounds like an album that MGMT deserve, a climax of their musical exploration and experimentation. The result is a fantastic album that is playful as it is captivating. It represents the incomprehensibility of a lot of MGMT's music - the most controlled clusterfuck of chaos.

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