By JUN YUN
American rock and indie band MGMT recently released its fourth album, Little Dark Age. MGMT, a duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, has produced a number of psychedelic hits over the past few years. While this album is not as commercially successful or popular as previous MGMT albums, there is a certain charm and distinction with Little Dark Age.
MGMT is a rock indie band that has previously stepped far outside the realms of traditional pop music; their synthetic pop beats of Oracular Spectacular were original, clever and wildly entertaining. Songs like “Time to Pretend,” “Kids” and “Electric Feel” were representative of the indie music scene of the 2000’s and captivated audiences with their incredibly catchy lyrics and sequences. Quite interestingly, MGMT never sought the fame associated with their music; this was a musical duo that began as a humorous and playful joke. Ten years after the arrival of Oracular Spectacular, MGMT has launched another album containing a heavy dose of political arguments with mainstream electronic pop sounds reminiscent of the 1980’s.
The unorthodox style, unlike the MGMT style of the past decade, is present in this album. “She Works Out Too Much” is a high-energy song about dating apps and their frequent, apt unnecessary, usage in today’s communication strategies. This song is almost unrecognizable as the MGMT of the past. This song is rooted in jazz chords and is fast-paced and lively, a tremendous welcoming into the album.
“Little Dark Age” is the premier song of this album, a return to the memorable synthetic pop beats of previous MGMT music. The extremely vibrant and beautifully crafted melodies with a bouncing bass are pleasing to hear. “Me and Michael” is reminiscent of 1980’s synthetic pop, but contains strangely addictive lyricism as well; the nostalgic vocals and dreamy guitar lines can make audiences feel happy, as did many songs in Oracular Spectacular. While MGMT’s new album is not a complete departure from its previous styles, the band is clearly attempting to redefine and shift its artistic integrity, without sacrificing any of its defining lyricism and uptempo beats.
Many of the songs on this album offer political commentary on modern technology, Internet usage and social media. “TSLAMP” continues this album’s trend on slight political commentary. This song, an acronym for “Time Spent Looking At My Phone” is a jab at modern society’s over-dependence on cellular devices as forms of communication. It is MGMT’s exploration of mature themes along with its dedication to branding an unorthodox musical style that is most impressive with Little Dark Age. Songs in this newest album are tremendously sequenced, ordered in a way that offers the last two songs as a thorough conclusion to the album. Audiences who enjoyed Oracular Spectacular are likely to also appreciate Little Dark Age for its own artistic merits.