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MGMT - MGMT Album Cover

MGMT - MGMT

Reviewed by
8.0
MGMT - MGMT
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Record Label: Columbia
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Here's a familiar scenario: Band releases debut album with a couple of songs that become major hits. Band grows to resent said hits while their fan base continues to endlessly associate the band with those songs. At this point, it feels like we've seen this happen more times than we can count. Unfortunately, this seems to be the narrative that MGMT's career has taken. Even though their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, came out in 2007, many fans of the band don't care about anything they've done aside from those big singles.

Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, however, have made it abundantly clear that they want nothing more than to move on from that era and bury those songs. Their sophomore album, Congratulations, was a reactionary record that deliberately tried to alienate the bandwagon fans who were only into the singles. It worked and it didn't work; the album showed that there are still plenty of fans along for the ride who have accepted this band won't be making big pop singles like they once did, but it also failed to completely shake those fans that endlessly scream for “Kids” at their shows.

With their third album, MGMT, the band has seemingly stopped trying to alienate those that yearn for the Oracular Spectacular days. Make no mistake, they are in no way catering to those fans either. Instead, they come across as a band that's done playing with expectations and have made a weird experimental psychedelic rock record for themselves and no one else.

Just because MGMT makes unorthodox music these days, that doesn't mean it's completely unapproachable. Many of the songs here, like “Alien Days” and “Introspection,” contain passages that could almost pass for pop songs, but these moments are often short lived and more often than not make way for some more experimental structures and techniques. There's the juxtaposition of a clean piano and an ugly synth on “Cool Song No. 2” and the sprawling, unintelligible vocals on “Astro-Mancy” that suggest these guys aren't taking things too seriously from a musical aspect, or are at least willing to try anything. When it comes to creating the art that they want to make, however, these guys are all business. The album sounds like they are simultaneously playing these songs with giant grins while tirelessly thinking of different ways to structure and approach them. The result is an album with a surprising amount of focus, even if the point of some of these songs is to be unfocused.

It's rather fascinating to see that dynamic at play. For all of its oddness, there's a center here that is undeniably captivating. Everything is drenched in a certain texture, so much so that the vocals sit so low in the mix at times that you're probably not going to pick up on what's being said. Even if you do go through the lyrics while listening, it might take a bit to put meaning to the words as they tend to be as structureless as some of the songs themselves. But that's part of this band's charm; they're just two guys making music for the fun of it. MGMT is truly the sound of two artists in the studio with the goal to entertain no one but themselves.

8
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 26
10:36 PM on 09/26/13
#2
CalebCorrill
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Very well-said. MGMT made this album for themselves and those willing to submerse themselves in a very different era of their career.
06:32 PM on 09/28/13
#3
CircaSin
The All-New 2014 Corolla
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They aren't the only artists who have made music for themselves. While I applaud them for wanting to distance themselves from what gained them popularity I find it difficult to enjoy anything on this album
06:33 PM on 09/28/13
#4
Jake Jenkins
dont talk to me
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They aren't the only artists who have made music for themselves. While I applaud them for wanting to distance themselves from what gained them popularity I find it difficult to enjoy anything on this album
never said they were the only ones.
07:16 PM on 09/28/13
#5
CircaSin
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never said they were the only ones.
I know, not knocking the review. Just a response to the ending.
08:09 AM on 09/30/13
#6
suicidesaints
A Million F@$% Diamonds
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They aren't the only artists who have made music for themselves. While I applaud them for wanting to distance themselves from what gained them popularity I find it difficult to enjoy anything on this album

This.
08:15 AM on 09/30/13
#7
mbao
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interesting
09:23 AM on 09/30/13
#8
grimis16
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this album is utter shit.
09:35 AM on 09/30/13
#9
zacharydudeman
Zach Dresch
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They aren't the only artists who have made music for themselves. While I applaud them for wanting to distance themselves from what gained them popularity I find it difficult to enjoy anything on this album
I totally agree with this as well. While I do think it's awesome that they want to grow, it seems that they are trying so hard to make their music "indie" or whatever you wanna call it, that the music suffers as a result.
09:47 AM on 09/30/13
Jake Jenkins
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I totally agree with this as well. While I do think it's awesome that they want to grow, it seems that they are trying so hard to make their music "indie" or whatever you wanna call it, that the music suffers as a result.
I get the complete opposite feeling. I don't think they're trying hard at all, they're just doing what they do
11:05 AM on 09/30/13
Mattylikesfilms
If You Dig Up The Dead...
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The band should have stuck with their debut sound. Everything after has sucked and their popularity continues to decline.
11:30 AM on 09/30/13
lightcollapse
on the edge of summer
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album is good as fuck
11:34 AM on 09/30/13
Bongi5788
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I dont even know if this album can be considered music. Its more just like random noises.
11:40 AM on 09/30/13
lovemetal24
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this is one of the worst albums I have ever heard
12:17 PM on 09/30/13
Lightsout911X
Expect me standing tall
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I could barely get through one full listen. Disappointing.

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