After months of dropping teaser-tracks and a staged coo of copyright infringement, MGMT has released their much-anticipated album, Little Dark Age. Starting in 2007 the duo pretty much became the bar for mainstream electro-pop with the explosive success of their radio anthems “Electric Feel,” “Kids,” and “Time to Pretend.” For years, the band has struggled to outgrow the shadow their early work had cast and for many fans, Little Dark Age is a refreshing return to form.
Here Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have come together with Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly and Flaming Lips’ producer Dave Fridmann. Throw in a few collaborations with Ariel Pink and Connan Mockasin and you’ve got yourself an album of absurdist nihilism shrouded in the breeziest Euro synth-pop you’ve heard since ’86.
Tracks like, “She Works Out Too Much,” “Tslamp,” and “When You Die,” feature saturated synths stacked atop oozy bass lines. And true to MGMT fashion, most of the lyrics stand in stark contrast to the album’s upbeat psychedelia with snide jabs at consumerism and reoccurring themes of existential unrest. “One Thing Left to Try” and “When You Die” offer a dark solution to this malaise with the first of the two nudging towards suicide while the second sings, “I’ll be laughing with you when you die.” Not a surprising sentiment from the minds that brought us “Kids.”
Hype whipped up earlier this week when the Filipino band True Faith uploaded a cover of MGMT’s yet to be released, “Me and Michael.” Fans took to twitter to sleuth out the connection between the two bands, at times condemning True Faith for taking credit for what was so clearly a rip off. The story slipped deeper into absurdity when a Soviet-pop ballad by the same name surfaced on Vimeo just several days before MGMT’s album drop. Budding conspiracy theories were finally dowsed on Wednesday when the music video for “Me and Michael” was released, revealing some much intended collusion between the 3 different sources and proving to have been very good publicity for MGMT
While several tracks on Little Dark Age fall a bit flat, like “When You’re Small,” or “James” (which was apparently conceived during an acid trip), the album’s consistent mood and singular concept keeps any one track from spiraling too far into left-field.
The album comes to a fitting and somewhat bitter end with the track “Hand it Over,” In the cryptic lines, “The deals we made to shake things up/And the rights that they abused/Might just fuck us over/But the doors won’t shut/Until they’re sure there’s nothing left to use,” Andrew and Ben sound jaded and are perhaps already rethinking their return to the limelight. If MGMT chooses to end their journey here, the track will stand as as a bitter farewell and just when we remembered how much we missed them!