MGMT – Loss Of Life

An often spectacular record that moves the band out of their own shadow...

MGMT are a band who have spent the majority of their career hidden in their own shadow. The success of their vibrant 2007 debut ‘Oracular Spectacular’ launched them into a level of stardom very few could have predicted, except for perhaps them, as foreshadowed in their tongue-in-cheek hit ‘Time To Pretend’. A handful of tracks venerated them indie royalty, ensuring their name remained known, but dooming future projects to endless scrutiny and comparison. 

When you look past the objectively brilliant tracks that began MGMT’s career however, there are hints within that debut of something greater brooding. One listen to the psychedelic, sprawling odyssey ‘Of Moons, Birds and Monsters’ and you realise this is a band who have plenty to say, and who finally had the resources to say it. Their next two albums saw them delve into their love affair with psych, solidly picking apart and reconstructing their inspirations while progressively alienating a considerable amount of their indie-adoring audience. There were no attempts to replicate the formula that had made them stars, instead a ceaseless desire to move forward; one that peaked on their acclaimed 2018 synth-pop infused exploration into modern relationships ‘Little Dark Age’.

‘Loss Of Life’ has a lot to follow, answering the question of an MGMT return to form that was posed with ‘Little Dark Age’. It sees the band reignite their love affair with psychedelic, dreamy vocals, but push it in a more accessible direction. As a new direction for the group, the album certainly has its moments, with tracks like ‘Bubblegum Dog’, a delightful offering that combines vivid imagery, warm fuzzy guitar and scorching solos. It’s an album that bubbles with moments of joy and anxiety in equal measure, a testament to MGMT’s love affair with making music and the repercussions that come with it: swerving from the glorious proclamation “I wanna tell everyone I know, I love you” on ‘Dancing In Babylon’ (with none other than Redcar of Christine and the Queens), to the harrowingly brutal “this is what the Gods must have been talking about when they told me nothing changes” on ‘Nothing Changes’.

The album tiptoes between genres, pushing into prog on the wonderful dream-like ‘Phradie’s Song’. ‘Nothing To Declare’ is a shimmering, bubbly ballad, oozing with that perfect combination of innocence and mystery that makes 60s pop so alluring. The album does lose momentum at points, with tracks such as ‘I Wish I Was Joking’ feeling a little too on the nose in its lyrical exploration into the isolation and troubles of stardom. As a whole, ‘Loss Of Life’ deftly balances the ability to appeal to the hardcore fans who have stuck with them, all while winning back the hearts of those who may have been lost along the way.

7/10

Words: Eve Boothroyd

Dig This? Dig Deeper: Christine and the Queens, The Lemon Twigs, Oneohtrix Point Never

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