EVER more out-there and experimental with the release of their self-titled third album, psychedelic electro-rockers MGMT seem hell-bent on shaking loose the fair-weather fans attracted by their feelgood, ironic pop debut.
Granted, they’re deigning to play ubiquitous mega-hit Kids once more, the joyous synth jam here replete with an extended instrumental section. But the loving embrace for it on Saturday evening – along with the likes of Time To Pretend, with its space rock guitars and striking keyboard hook, and the translucent, inexplicable fun of Electric Feel – were in marked contrast to the reception afforded their newer tunes, as the unshowy duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden made little effort beyond Kids to bridge the divide. Only the throwaway closer, the catchy, trippy, almost nursery rhyme-like Plenty of Girls in the Sea, harkening back to those older anthems, elicited anything like the same response.
So, good on MGMT for not pandering. But there’s no ignoring that they find themselves at a tricky crossroads in regard to juggling expectations in the live arena, where the interesting, ominously-tinged, thundering percussion and proggy qualities of Mystery Disease and the shimmering and nerdy Alien Days seemed completely overshadowed by their more accessible forerunners.
Of course, this is just a case of a band and its followers trying to get comfortable with each other’s ongoing development. But right now, and notwithstanding the hallucinogenic wildlife images playing behind them, MGMT’s transition is neither fish or fowl and unlikely to fully satisfy anyone.