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Album review: ‘MGMT’

The band’s self-titled album is a tribute to creativity over commercial value

By Patrick McKenna | Sept. 20, 2013

Tags: Music Reviews

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Full-throttle psychedelic music has the capability of making listeners connect to the sound on an unimaginably concrete level. Equally possible? A listener becomes confused, feels disinterested or even questions the sanity of the artist as they flip to the next song.

MGMT’s newest album proposes this toss-up for fans, and only time will tell if the vibrant journey offered will stand the test against its increasingly large fanbase.

The Brooklyn-based beat masters MGMT have finally returned with their self-titled third album, which has a sound unlike anything they’ve attempted before. Since the release of fan favorite Congratulations in 2010, the band has flourished, headlining major festivals such as Lollapalooza and building a reputation for being one of the best indie rock bands to emerge in the last five years.

Always the psychedelic enthusiasts, their latest craft seems to be testament to the bands growing desire to hold ingenuity over commercial success. With outlandish instrumentals scattered throughout the album, the band has constructed a sound that pushes the experimentation envelope farther than ever before.

Unlike their past two albums, MGMT’s overall sound gravitates away from accessible psych-pop and towards eccentric electronic.

With the notable influences of Aphex Twin and house music matched with what remains of the band’s melody-based psychedelic indie-rock, the album does an excellent job refraining from becoming another toss-away collection of unoriginal songs. Experimentation on high, MGMT comes away with an imaginative concoction of trippy tunes for the trippiest of tripsters (and hipsters).

Beginning with the slow and majestic “Alien Days,” the album’s progression goes from moderately weird to ridiculously wacky. From “Introspection,” a beat-heavy proclamation of individuality (“There's a season when I will find out where I am / And there's a reason, and I will someday find the plan”), to the final four tracks on the album, Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, he men behind the haziness, explore the waters of expression through their ambitious desire to sound different.

The album’s pinnacle comes in “Mystery Disease,” a blend of haunting synths that remind listeners of Bowser’s Castle. This song sparks something in the listener that says, “I’m here, I’m weird, but you still like me.” The possibilities of this being the overarching point to this album are as strong and articulate as VanWyngarden’s soothing vocals.

For MGMT fanatics, the album is a wonderful return that shows experimentation and maturity. After a few listens, MGMT will become the latest reason this band is so powerful.

For people who loved the fun melodies of past hits such as “Electric Feel” and “Kids” and are itching for repeats, I suggest you resort back to the lackluster sounds of our generation’s generic pop.

The truly artful form that MGMT possesses will always be there for those willing to invest in something unique.

MOVE gives MGMT 3 out of 5 stars.

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