When MGMT first appeared on the scene with their debut Oracular Spectacular they managed to quickly become one of those bands it was virtually impossible to avoid, with tracks like Time To Pretend and Kids dominating the airwaves everywhere you looked. This chirpy synth-led pop sound only really featured on a few tracks of the album though, with the rest being the somewhat odder and more unique synth-filled brand of indie that featured even more prominently on their second album Congratulations.
Today we have their latest album, the self titled MGMT and to get it right out of the way at the outset, if you are hoping to get some more tracks like Kids to soundtrack your teen drama like Skins or Hollyoaks, you are going to be pretty disappointed. At the same time, for those of us wanting to find something genuinely unique and brilliantly listenable, then you are in for a treat. Nailing down a description for this album so far is one of those goals seemingly always out of reach – with every listen and every different track I keep noticing yet more influences and references to other artists sounds hidden within – sounds harking back to the weirder moments of the Beatles, electronic sounding rhythms that wouldn’t be out of place in the more musical end of Aphex Twins output, and a whole plethora of moments that just remind you of artists like The Flaming Lips, Ween, some latter day Radiohead and countless others that I have noted on previous listens before getting distracted by new sounds on the subsequent and forgetting before putting to paper. I can definitely say though that however odd a noise this may potentially make, everything is held together by the same pop sensibilities that did make Time To Pretend so pervasive and memorable, if just not quite so overtly poppy and mass market. On that note MGMT is an album that does seem to have a distinct A and B side to it, with the first five tracks being what would be closest to the previous pop songs MGMT are known for, while the latter five divert off into far less structured forms and much more based in soundscapes that perhaps don’t have the same immediacy to them on the first listening, but certainly grow on you as you get drawn into the rhythms and beats.
At the end of this all I am still just as clueless about finding a way to adequately describe MGMT’s self titled album beyond just saying it follows on the route mapped out by the last two from chirpy synth pop into a more developed and thoughtful sound. Ethereal, rhythmic, utterly odd and unique, full of brilliant moments and full of the sort of hooks to stick firmly in your mind for the rest of the day. So far one of my favourite albums of this year, and definitely recommended.
MGMT’s MGMT is available now on Columbia records.