Psychedelic duo MGMT have never managed to recreate the same dizzying heights of popularity with their albums as their 2008 debut Oracular Spectacular gained, but their latest effort, Little Dark Age, could truly be their swansong.
There is a distinct power pop and darkwave sound that runs throughout this album, from the low, smooth-yet-sinister James and lo-fi synth ballad TSLAMP, to the frantic Voidz-like punch of comical opener She Works Out Too Much, the retro arcade game-like title track Little Dark Age, and the dreamy, bright, nostalgic Me And Michael.
The psychedelic folk and jangly guitar feel of When You Die is more reminiscent of their debut, as is the piano-led When You’re Small, which break up the track listing nicely, even if Andrew VanWyngarden’s lyrics, “When you’re small, you don’t have very far to fall, you can curl into a ball” come across as too simplistic and lazy.
Regardless of this minor lull, VanWyngarden’s voice is otherwise at its boldest in the other tracks, with interesting lyrical themes, most notably One Thing Left To Try, which sees meandering synth work weave between bouncy chords, a driving 90s dance beat, and the pair’s incredibly melodic vocal line. Even the instrumental Days That Got Away has enough intricate rhythms and interesting synth sounds to keep the listener engaged, making this record incredibly consistent and exciting.
Little Dark Age has proven to be the golden age for MGMT, putting them back where they belong – front-runners of psychedelic and experimental pop.
Edited by Ginny Wong