Thursday, August 28, 2008


MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

(Columbia) 2008

Did you notice how hateable MGMT are? The garish colours of their album sleeves, the fact that the core members resemble rejects from Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’ video and they sing about ecology in their songs. Hippies to boot! Not that in interviews the band come off as tossers. I have to admit that I was secretly hoping that the group’s debut ‘Oracular Spectacular’ would be a first class mess and then I would have the last laugh.

Sadly this was not to be.

Two months have passed and I am absolutely LOVING this album. It just keeps on getting better with each spin and the secret to this is that the band pull out no stops and have a kitchen sink approach their songs. No matter how bizarre or off beat a certain sound is, it will be thrown into the mix and this leads to some interesting combinations. Take the track ‘Weekend Wars’ a loping hip hop beat that’s slowed down and with xylophone dressing, then a minute in the instruments start to creep in , everything goes faster and the instruments dominate and the decoration comes from cheesy sounding keyboards. By the 3 and a half minute mark the song goes through a complete mutation and morphs into some celestial synth symphony. Elsewhere the album is filled with symphonic folk (Pieces of what) techno stompers (the majestic, must hear ‘Kids’) and warped 80’s-ish synth pop ( Electric Feel) but it never ever becomes tiresome or boring. The record company did choose Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai), one of the best producers in alternative music today, and he did a wonderful job in reigning in and controlling every sound into a listenable whole.

The other thing MGMT have on their side is a clearly perceived sense of irony, first track and single ‘Time to Pretend’ is a firm tongue in cheek diatribe about rock star clichés such has drug taking and other trappings of fame and the most blatant example of the band’s playful sense of humor.

Although this far from a perfect debut, Lead singer Andrew Van Wyngarden’s voice can grate a bit and sometimes one feels that MGMT have to mature a little bit more and shed the corny image. Other than these minor irritations, this a very consistent debut which bears many plays. Already I have a feeling that we will hearing about this band quite a bit as Wyngarden and other member, Ben Goldwasser are collaborating on different musical projects. Give them more experience and musical maturity and a classic album will definitely be on the way.

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