After nearly a 5-year absence, American psychedelic rock band MGMT have returned with a brand-new album, ‘Little Dark Age’. If, like me, you think back to the halcyon days of the pre-2010s world then you’ll be familiar with MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’, especially the tracks ‘Time to Pretend’ and ‘Kids’. They were classics and stand up to almost any song of that period without question.
This new release, on the other hand, does not. It’s a shallow hark back to Lord-knows-when that attempts to hit you square in the jaw but lands softer than a stroke to the cheek.
The record suddenly starts with the track ‘She Works Out Too Much’, that I’m sure that many will be quick to describe as ‘fun’ and ‘quirky’. It’s not fun, it’s annoying. It refuses to leave you alone, but not in the way of a great song that sticks with you, quite the opposite.
It doesn’t get much better from there. The album trundles along at a boring pace and did very little to keep my attention. I don’t mean to be harsh, MGMT have my respect for trying something new off the back of a long absence, but it doesn’t deliver.
The record is somewhat all over the place with how it feels. It’s stuck in some time or place that doesn’t exist, and that’s the nature of psychedelic sounding music I suppose, but the flip side of that argument is that the music then has to be interesting. And this record is not interesting. It feels like being stuck in purgatory. The track that truly encapsulates this is ‘When You’re Small’. A slow burning, sleep-inducing, swing and a miss.
The record has its uppers in fairness. The title track ‘Little Dark Age’ is well crafted and feels moody. It’s a light in a dark tunnel for this record, shining very bright, as a beacon of the potential this record sadly never fulfilled. Another honourable mention goes to the track ‘Days That Got Away’, it’s a bouncy little midway jamboree that sent me straight into the ether, but when it was finished I came crashing down to Earth, and the realisation that this is the best this record is going to get.
So MGMT are back again, and whilst this is news that excites many, upon hearing the record I can’t see the justification for that excitement. The critics so far seem to be hailing it as a triumphant return for the duo, but I’d ask: a triumphant return from what? Some music is better than no music I guess.
By Joe Parker – @joe_parker96