By Andrea Cerna
The willful duo Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser popularly known as MGMT is back with their new album, “Little Dark Age.” After their 2013 self-titled album that was unsuccessful; it is safe to say that this album could be considered as their comeback.
MGMT revealed that they collaborated with Ariel Pink and Connan Mockasin on “Little Dark Age.” The album was produced by Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly and Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann.
“Little Dark Age” consists of powerful hallucinogenic melodies that have recurring concepts to them such as the reference of the fictional persona of Michael from the song Me and Michael. Additionally, MGMT consistently manages to merge mid-80s electronic pop with a twist of a modern clean sound.
The opener, “She Works Out Too Much” brings in an upbeat tune with an irresistible catchy pop payoff line: “The only reason it never worked out was he didn’t work out enough”. A relationship is at risk of failing not only due to not working out as much as the female counterpart, but because of being consumed by classic VHS exercising tapes. It includes retro exercising video voice overs scattered throughout the song. Other sounds that are used to highlight the song’s uniqueness are the 8-bit notes.
The teaser song, “Little Dark Age,” was released late October 2017 and signifies a new era for MGMT’s music career, indicating that this would be their most coherent project. This track extracts all of the gothic undertones that every song has to offer and it is sculpted to replicate the vibe of an early 80s trad-goth song. It is obvious that MGMT took inspiration from The Cure’s early discography such as their fourth album, “Pornography” which consists of heavy synths and stale consistent vocals. In the behind the scenes for the “Little Dark Age” music video, MGMT admits to strive for the gothic aesthetic.
The cliché 80s pop ballad track Me and Michael focuses on a wonderful friendship between two guys and displays the band’s common interest for European synth-pop.
In retrospect to the song “TSLAMP,” time spent looking at my phone, conveys a subtle central theme about technology consuming society. “One Thing Left To Try” and “TSLAMP” complement Euro-pop with ethereal sweet romantic melodies. “One Thing Left To Try” however, tackles depression and its’ icy effect on a person who is on their last straw.
Ariel Pink’s collaboration is evident in “When You Die,” one of their current popular songs. VanWyngarden’s sardonic vocals molds an oriented motif that is accompanied with neo-psychedelic guitar sounds. On some occasions, laughing snippets are heard to be creating a morbid ambience of discomfort to the listener. Since the release of their music video for the song, it has reached a large audience of 4.8 million viewers. The music video experiments with psychedelic visuals that perfectly captivate the uneasy mood of the song.
The final two songs, “When You’re Small” and “Hand It Over,” are ballads with ominous and bittersweet vocals that have a similar structure to a Pink Floyd melody by using various electronic sounds and stringed instruments.
Definite flaws of this album are that it is obscure and the lyrics are generic. Most of the lyrics are repetitive and eventually become tedious. However, the band masks this by emitting the catchy synths and electronic background with psychedelic sounds over the lyrics. Unfortunately, both tracks “James” and “Days That Got Away” do not bring any excitement. They both are stale happy-go-getters and lack in actual structure. The melodies are lovely, however, they are in an infinite loop.
“Little Dark Age” does not disappoint like their ill-received self-titled album “MGMT.” It reassures the listeners that MGMT aren’t hiding from the harsh critiques. Just like their song “Little Dark Age” says, “just know that if you hide/it doesn’t go away”- it truly consolidates a comeback.