We knew it was coming, but MGMT is officially back.
This past week saw the release of the duo’s first full project since 2013, Little Dark Age.
The creative duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden have been consistently apart since the release of 2013’s forgettable eponymous album. Their physical separation, Goldwasser lives in LA and VanWyngarden lives in the ever-hip Rockaway area of New York City, mirrors a fissure that grew between MGMT and their fans since the release of 2007’s monolithic debut Oracular Spectacular.
The group didn’t seem like they knew how to react to their overnight stardom and moved away from their über-successful indie pop sound with their next two releases. )n Little Dark Age, MGMT looks towards a happy medium between message-driven electronic music and modern prog rock. The result is an album that sounds like the lovechild of New Order and Pink Floyd.
One of the first things that jumps out to listeners on the new project is its brevity. In an age ruled by streaming numbers, where most artists pump out 24 song behemoths (Migos, for example) it seems that MGMT decidedly bucked the modern trend with Little Dark Age’s just 10 tracks — proving “the less is more model” still does work.
A second cornerstone of the album is just how aptly its production lines up with its lyrics. Just look to “TSLAMP” (Time Spent Looking at My Phone) or “Days That Got Away” as two solid exemplifications of this phenomena.
“TSLAMP” is a universally-relevant track, which forces its listeners to think about how much time they’ve wasted with technology. The irony present here can’t be ignored. MGMT knows its listeners will read reviews online and stream the album on a cellular phone. They want listeners to consider the irony when listening to the work. In fact, irony’s played a major thematic role in MGMT’s work since the success of “Time to Pretend,” a song about the perils of stardom that ultimately propelled them to their unprecedented fate.
Despite its immense irony, the most interesting aspect of “TSLAMP” is how deeply hypnotizing it is. The bassline grabs its listeners as it hits and refuses to let them go. Hazy bossa nova vibes wash over listeners on “TSLAMP,” and pull them in with a magnetism akin to that little screen in their pocket.
“Days That Got Away” is a strangely soothing track that serves as the interlude on Little Dark Age. The behind-the-beat drums and fleeting melodic synths make the song sound lackadaisical, even lazy. The track is almost entirely instrumental but this doesn’t serve to detract from its message. MGMT only needs to briefly remind one of “Days That Got Away” in order to make themselves heard. The music does more to transport its listeners to a rainy Sunday spent on the couch than words ever could.
Little Dark Age is an incredibly self-aware album and represents a more mature version of a group beloved by many. They were a group omnipresent in many people’s teen years with timeless hits like “Time to Pretend” and “Kids,” so hopefully this new project signifies their return to indie rock relevance.
They kick off an international tour March 2nd.