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MGMT, a gem of a band in "psychedelic rock," had their golden age in the early 2000s, releasing multiple hits like "Kids," "Time to Pretend," and "Electric Feel." Their first albums were released fairly close together: 2007, 2010, and 2013... Then after that 2013 album (MGMT, self-titled), there was a hiatus without even any hint of releasing a single.
Now, finally, we have Little Dark Age (though it's considered synth-pop/psychedelic pop). Released on the ninth of this month, you can definitely say there was an uproar in veterans and newcomers alike. The pre-orders started on January 19, offering either a vinyl or CD and a limited edition long-sleeve and/or pin (of course, I bought the bundle).
The long-sleeve features the album art on the front, "MGMT" on the right sleeve, and "LDA" on the left, all in black ink on a white long-sleeve.
The pin has the logo on a dark purple background that's reminisent of Las Vegas magicians:
I purchased the CD but I know the inside of the vinyl fold has some beautiful art (I won't spoil it for those of you who collect records).
Now, on to the "good" stuff... The actual music review!
For anyone who pre-ordered it (at least for the U.S), physical items/copies arrived on the actual release date. Naturally, I listened to it as soon as I got home.
Both the CD and vinyl versions include the lyrics to all the songs, which I personally like; it's helpful in diffusing confusion.
(Numbers with * have a music video. I think it's good to watch the video when you first listen to a song, especially when the artist went out of their way to release the song with the video... It's a part of the experience!)
- "She Works Out Too Much" - This is decently catchy, has nice sounds, and nice instrumentals. Although, it has a woman talking in the song (giving work-out instructions) which kind of ruins the flow in my opinion, and I personally have a negative bias against songs like that (ruined a lot of Odd Future songs for me). I guess it's good it was the first song on the album.
- * "Little Dark Age" - the album title and the first music video/song to be released way before the album release date was announced. Though it's the second song, I feel like it was originally a current-time-in-my-life inspired song (Singer Andrew VanWyngarden's life that is), and the other songs actually came later from the time this song was made to the last, whatever order those may have been created. I actually saw screenshots from this music video being used as a response meme in various places... though I personally like this song quite a bit. It's reminiscent of 80s music, which is one of the main reasons MGMT is my favorite band, as well as reminiscent of their old music. It's catchy and has great instrumentals. I've also always really liked the different tones and effects Andrew can make with his voice.
- * "When you Die" (explicit) - Listen to this song. It's a... not so friendly message to someone, but still nicely catchy.
- * "Me and Michael" - This was the last song released before the whole album was. I really like it—super catchy, random, and the music video is very funny.
- "TSLAMP" - Personally, this song doesn't have a great tune at first. It gets better later, but it's also relatable so that's..? Makes up for it I guess. Honestly the beginning reminds me of sipping margaritas on the beach (which I have never done) but also as a middle aged man, dancing alone later, after one too many. Anyways, remember when I said this album was inspired by real events? Not to sound like a psycho, but during production of this album, Andrew deleted his Instagram and this song is talking about looking at his phone too much—"Time Spent Looking at My Phone"—and mentions a girl too... hmmmmm.... interesting, huh? The first song is also obviously about a girl and talking about liking her selfies. *boom*
- "James" - This song has a good beat, but is slower than most of the songs on this album. I can't say what it's about because generally it seems like he's singing about a person, I assume, named James and doing things for him...? Just listen to it and you decide. Also, it reminds me a bit of Mac Demarco (who I like at times).
- "Days That Got Away" - mainly instrumentals with the title being sung here and there. Reminds me of a dungeon side scroller, which is good.
- "One Thing Left to Try" - instantly: very 80s. I really like this song, probably my favorite from the album; I like when songs sound fun and catchy but have a more macabre meaning. It reminds me of so many random things throughout the song, but especially the movie The Last Starfighter, and the main character reminds me of Andrew.
- "When You're Small" - the slowest song on the album. It's teetering on the fence of a country song. The only thing gripping it to the other side is the sound effects, possible psychedelic references, and then the development of the instrumentals towards the end.
- * "Hand It Over" - my other favorite on the album. It's another slower one, but it's beautiful.
Overall, there are great instrumentals, use of sound effects, and interesting music videos as always. I've always had an admiration for Andrew's ability to change his voice but still sound recognizable.
Another great album by MGMT! Is this their last? Or is it the start of another golden age?
(Credits to everyone who worked on the album.)