MGMT’s new album is depressing

Vanguard Online February 11, 2018 0

Do I dare put them in the progressive pop bracket? Well their vocals on Little Dark Age are fed through a machine that makes these guys sound like they’re singing to themselves, listening to their own echos in some other part of a mountain range, singing above the heads of their audience, perhaps not even caring or realising that they’ve got an audience. That is pretty progressive rock. MGMT are a melancholy band on this album, and at times it is a beautiful melancholy. In this way and in the way that they seem to be accepted as a pretty effin cool pop act, they occupy that Shoreditchian ‘Hot Chip’ space. They’ve done something to their voices, at times they sing as if stressed, as if they are just a few more thoughts away from a breakdown. In this way they remind me of a band you wont have heard of called The Catchers. ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ you can just about hear them shout-sing. They sound hurt, angry, meanwhile an ethereal gentle guitar tune, with a beat, trundles on. The track is very atmospheric, to the point of being dream like. This doesn’t appear to be a ‘loudspeaker’ album where the singing is intended to be engaged head on, consciously. Its more like a memory or a sense of a memory that they want to leave you with. They’re not just progressive pop though. They’re also a bit Stock, Aitken and Waterman pop ending. Any of Bros, Brother Beyond or Glen Medeiros could have  helped them pen the outro to Me and Michael. At times the album is slow and cumbersome,  anyone looking for a stocking full of pop hits to parallel previous feats is going to be disappointed and if not disappointed then a little bored. One Thing Left To Try is a slight departure, the name suggests that, it has a little more fizz, though the fizz is tempered. The track has a bouncy if understated bass beat, its Video Stole the Radio and Daft Punk coming to terms with life in a self-help group. ‘Do you want to keep us alive?’ a roboticised voice sings and asks. It is what it is, and I have a feeling that people who understand music at a level that I don’t will see some kind of qualities that I can’t , but the simpleton in me can’t quite figure out why or in what kind of situation or circumstance anyone would listen to this. Its too dirge like at times to be lounge music. It doesn’t have enough of a kick to be on the dancefloor, maybe the DJ would play it at the beginning of the night when they’re getting ready and the first punters are coming in. Its pretty damned introspective. I’d think people who are the bottom of a pit of despair might find something in it, and if they did and could, then wouldn’t that be great?

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