In their first album since 2013 MGMT released “Little Dark Age” in February 2018 and I had been eagerly anticipating it’s release after hearing some of the singles and I haven’t found any disappointment in what has been produced as “Little Dark Age” is absolutely brilliant.
By pure coincidence over the last year I’ve been listening to a lot of synth pop and 80’s influenced electronic music so it seems like fate that a creative band such as MGMT would release such an album which is chocked full of synth pop, indie rock and a enough groove for me to really sink my teeth into.
The album has a light tone with comedic tones throughout which allow this to be an incredibly enjoyable listening experience.
The first song “She Works Out Too Much” is such a brilliant opener. Its a sarcastic comedic look at a relationship that has broke down. It hasn’t worked out because the woman can’t stop working out. Silly but deliberate as it points out the superficial nature of some relationships. The whole song is constructed as a bit out of touch with it’s off beat nature but it’s such a great song that immediately had me wanting more.
The title track “Little Dark Age” is next. This track surfaced in late 2017 and I was unsure about it at first as on first listen it seemed to go no where and the melody was difficult for to me enjoy. But I assure you on repeated listens it gets there and you begin to hear new things with every listen. This went from a song I had little interest in to being one to turn up and get lost in.
Lyrically it is talking about denial and keeping a secret that can consume you. The way the vocal is presented is almost as if it is coming from another planet. The bass and the synths used are mesmerizing. It’s outstanding.
“When You Die” changes things slightly but only for the better. A very Fleetwood Mac feel on here although the lyrics probably wouldn’t be to the taste of Buckingham or Nicks!
The instrumentation on this song is just gorgeous. It’s of another time and it’s just beauty to my ears. Whilst lyrically the song is just a cynical look at life and how unhappy the protagonist is. He isn’t nice, and he is self aware of this. The song is ultimately quite sad that someone could think such lowly of themselves.
The production on this track deserves a lot of praise as it’s polished and alluring.
“Me & Michael” is a 80’s throwback. It’s so deliberately so that it’s almost a parody. At first I took it as a joke and the video did little to dissuade me of this but as I continued to play it I can’t deny that it has become one of my favourites on the entire album.
If the chorus doesn’t stay with you after you have listened then you haven’t listened attentively enough as it’s so infectious. What is it all about? Well it was originally called “Me and My Girl” but they thought it was boring so changed it to Michael and give it this ambiguous edge and it works.
The fact the song is about so little is actually what helps it because that airy 80’s synthy pop they create gets you pumped up despite not knowing why. The way this song has been constructed is so magnificent.
I have given the first four songs such high praise that I don’t really know where to begin with “TSLAMP” (aka Time Spent Looking At My Phone”). This is my favourite song on the album and like the previous track the infectious chorus is bound to stay with you.
This track has a groove that I would not have expected to hear from MGMT. The lyrics are as the title suggest which is a commentary about how we look at our phones constantly. It’s a simple theme but we all know we suffer from this problem ourselves and detaching from our phones is a difficult thing to do.
If this isn’t in my top 10 songs of 2018 i’ll be very surprised.
Both members of MGMT (Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser) sing on the album with Andrew the lead vocalist. On this track “James” he sings a lot deeper on this psychedelic synth rock/pop track. This is probably the weakest song on the album but in it’s defence it is along side a hell of a lot of good tracks.
“Days That Got Away” is this dreamy synthy muddle of sounds with only the songs title lyrics being sung at sporadic moments. Use of the recorder and organ can be heard with the bass giving the track a spacey vibe. This isn’t more of the more catchy songs but it is atmospheric and with my headphones on it was a track I can get lost in.
The light and uptempo 80’s vibe is brought back in spectacular fashion with “One Thing Left To Try”. The subtext of the lyrics appear to be about someone who is having suicidal thoughts but it is difficult to get with that theme with this boppy production and instrumentation and makes you wanna dance more so than feel any sadness.
“When Your Small” is the only real down tempo ballad like moment on the set. This might polarize opinion as it seems ill fitting with the rest of the tracks. But I don’t mind it as the simple lyrics about big themes such as your place in the world do connect with other themes that are littered across the album.
The final song on this tremendous album is “Hand It Over”. This is such a wonderful track to end the set. This beautiful song apparently is lyrically about Donald Trump becoming president of the USA but I think you have to really dig deep to understand that and it isn’t something that stands out when listening to it.
Like many of the songs on this album it is just a joy to listen to.
It may only be February at the time of writing this but I cannot see this not being one of my favourite albums of 2018 as I haven’t heard many better albums in the last few years.
It’s a brilliantly constructed album full of superb songs and I recommend anyone giving it a go.
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