Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

MGMT came from practically nowhere in 2007 to release an album that would become immensely popular and would go on to become one of the greatest albums of the past decade. It's really hard not to have heard at some point one of the songs from this album.
 Well, that was a particularly short paragraph. I'm not really feeling very inspired at the moment, which is funny because usually I can say quite a lot about anything I set my mind to. I suppose it's all this school business that's currently occupying my mind, and really I should be thinking about what I want to do about my various assignments, so I apologize if I'm not really operating at peak efficiency.

As I was saying, MGMT came virtually out of nowhere with this album, and it was really popular. Frankly, I'm not sure how I missed it, except I wasn't really big into music back in 2007 or 8. It's kind of unfortunate, because this might have saved my taste in music much earlier than it was, because this really is quite a good record.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I lay down to listen to this. I'd already been listening to "Kids" for a while and it was just a matter of acquiring the full album, but labeling anything as psychedelic makes it really hard to judge just what you think you'll be listening to. It doesn't help that the only track you've heard finds itself out of place in just about any genre, not even alternative or indie rock, and certainly not electronica either. It seems to me that MGMT are a fusion of just about all those particular genres: the unrestricted sound of indie rock, the darkness of alternative and the synthesis of electronica. Psychedelic is certainly in the eye of the beholder, and it's kind of hard for me to picture anything as such, except perhaps for having lots and lots of echo, which is certainly the case with MGMT.

The album is split into two halves with two different themes. Most of the first half is made of songs devoted to being young. "Time To Pretend" opens the album with a catchy song about being young and being free, about living fast, missing childhood but living with adulthood. "The Youth" carries the theme of young freedom with a waltzier song about being a teenager, and "Kids" brings the times back a few years to earlier childhood. "Kids" is the clear hit from the album, except it was beaten by "Electric Feel," which both sounds like it should be in the second half and the second spot behind "Kids." The second half is much more solemn compared to the first, without a true theme and more "psychedelic" than the first. "4th Dimensional Transition" bridges the two sides with a dark, quickened song and "Pieces of What" and "The Handshake" bring down the tone a bit from the first side, the former being a short acoustic guitar and vocal duet (this song is where I have the most issue with Andrew Van Wyngarden's vocals. Normally I find them appealing, except here, where he over sings quite a bit more than he should for a low-tone acoustic guitar song.) and the latter a spacy, echo-ed mess. But kind of in a good way.

But anyway, the whole thing is very well done. When they aren't impossible to understand MGMT have got themselves a wonderfully unique synth-pop/indie rock fusion of a sound. I look forward to hearing more from them.

"Time To Pretend"

"The Youth"

"Electric Feel"

"Kids" (A little disturbing, so beware.)

"Pieces of What"

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