More than ten years have passed since Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, better known as MGMT, released their now revered debut album ‘Oracular Spectacular’. While never quite replicating the success of that project in subsequent work, the two albums released following their debut saw the group exploring more experimental and psychedelic sounds, to a mixed reception.
Now, five years after their last album, the band has returned with ‘Little Dark Age’. Although the singles released before the album have hinted at a return to the more synth-pop focused tracks that defined their early work, what soon becomes apparent is that the New York group may have found a happy medium between experimentation and pop hooks. Perhaps the best example of this is single ‘Me and Michael’, which sounds as quirky and humorous as you’d expect, but which builds to a huge pop crescendo.
The group also do well to not abandon the people that enjoyed the more overtly strange and psychedelic work from previous albums, as tracks like ‘Days That Got Away’ continue to evolve MGMT’s musical experimentation. That song precedes what could be the stand-out track on the album, ‘One Thing Left To Try,’ which seems to combine every element of the band in an incredible way. The ‘80s synth-pop inspired track soars with an ecstatic joy, balanced out with the band’s characteristic tongue-in-cheek approach to songwriting.
This album is already being heralded as a return to form, yet this seems reductive given the positive influence of their previous couple of albums on this project. Following the success of ‘Oracular Spectacular’, it seemed a conscious move on the band’s part to move away from the mainstream pop world with their more experimental work. With ‘Little Dark Age’, the group have perfected the balancing act between the two, and have delivered a project that should please fans on both sides.
Words: Will Rosebury
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