Psychedelic rock rebranded, MGMT takes great strides on new singles

Band embraces dark, vintage style in recent release

· Jan 31, 2018 Tweet

Andy Whitton/NME

In the past months, electro-psychedelic sensation MGMT has released three singles from their upcoming album, Little Dark Age, which brings their unique electric feel to the forefront of vintage psychedelia.

In October of last year, MGMT climbed out of the woodwork for the first time in four years to release their first new single, Little Dark Age. They’ve since released two more singles, “When You Die” and “Hand It Over,” producing in just three songs the same variety of style audiences have come to expect from them.

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Since the release of their 2013 self-titled album, MGMT has evidently taken great strides to redefine and acknowledge their musical identity.

Many will remember MGMT from their hit songs from their first album, Oracular Spectacular Electric Feel,” “Kids,” and “Time to Pretend.” These songs, while not completely dissimilar from the bulk of their releases since Oracular Spectacular, could easily be considered divergent from the sound MGMT has developed in the decade since their debut.

Oracular Spectacular, complete with poppy synths and a few hits that took radio stations by storm at the time of its release, may seem like a far cry from their latest single, “Hand it Over,” which brings a chilled-out, trippy element to their repertoire.

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While casual listeners may find their departure from poppy melodies in exchange for a more dreamy, mellow atmosphere somewhat surprising, avid MGMT fans will surely consider their latest releases a noteworthy reward for four years of patience. Each single they’ve released brings familiar yet unique flavors to the upcoming album.

MGMT has released two music videos alongside their singles, “When You Die” and the album’s eponymous single, “Little Dark Age.”

The “When You Die” music video feels more like a dosage of hallucinogens than a music video and follows the death of a somewhat unimpressive magician.

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The stunning visuals and light, easy tone of the music seem to clash poetically with the dark and edgy lyrics — a clash that recurs in the “Little Dark Age’s” music video, which also features dark imagery to combat the airy, rolling Depeche Mode synthesizers and echoed lyrics.

This clash between dark and light seem to highlight MGMT’s revival. It’s been 10 years since their debut and now, in the “Little Dark Age” video, frontman Andrew VanWyngarden nods to the goth-pop of the ‘80s, donning a wig not unlike The Cure’s Robert Smith, coldly dishing out grave lyrics. This is a swift way to address an indisputable departure from the optimistic pop that was found in Oracular Spectacular and a rebirth into the realm of goth psychedelia.

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Little Dark Age is set to release — ambiguously — in 2018 and shows great promise for MGMT. The singles released so far feel like a throwback to the ‘80s and feel markedly more consistent and self-aware of what they want to be than those of their previous self-titled album.

Those turned away by MGMT’s departure from electronic pop singles like “Kids” may still have to wait to see if their upcoming album features any similarities. Those hooked by MGMT’s further engagement with psychedelia as a whole will surely be pleased by their recent releases.

Some may find it difficult to associate MGMT with a notably vintage sound, but make no mistake — MGMT has taken great strides in an effort to rebrand themselves and explore fresh sounds with their unique style.

Rating: 8/10


This article was published Jan 31, 2018 at 10:50 am and last updated Jan 30, 2018 at 7:24 pm


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