New York psychedelic rock duo MGMT’s 2007 debut album Oracular Spectacular cemented their reputation with a trio of effortlessly loveable and unique indie-pop hits in Kids, Time To Pretend and Electric Feel.
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Three years later the follow-up Congratulations seemed to deliberately shy away from such immediacy, but its abstract playfulness still created a work whose lack of commercial success was offset by the real sense that its harder to digest extremes might add up to an undiscovered classic of the future.
Now, three years on, comes their vaguely extra-terrestrial-themed third album, and the decision to title it in honour of the band themselves offers the suggestion that there’s something definitive about it, that listening to it will offer us the purest expression of MGMT as a band yet heard. If this is the case, then not even the return of Oracular Spectacular producer Dave Fridmann can convince us they’re anything but jokers at heart, whose dabblings with concise futurist electro-pop were wayward steps on the way to being an impenetrable late-60s psych outfit.
The gorgeous production is the best thing about this record, from the fuzz-toned, reverberating lurch of Cool Song No.2 and the watery West Coast twang of Introspection to the sun-bleached, Mercury Rev-playing-a-rave awakening of A Good Sadness and I Love You To Death’s chirruping, busy wash of effects. Yet the difference between making a record that sounds great and one that’s great to listen to is manifest, and there’s very little here – bar perhaps the so-so garage rock chug of Your Life Is A Lie – which lodges itself firmly in the heart or the memory. Download: A Good Sadness