MGMT’s last album Congratulations was my favorite album of 2010. Back then I admired the fearlessness of MGMT casting off the electro-pop shackles of their first album and delving into psychedlia. On album no. 3, MGMT has gone off the deep-end and can barely keep afloat. MGMT has become an incomprehensible mess of beeps and buzzes on their self-titled third album and entered a psychedelic nightmare. This album is nothing but unintelligible melodies sandwiched between lumbering rhythms and too much overproduction. After awhile you start to wonder how some of these even began as songs. That’s not to say there aren’t brief reminders of why this band became popular in the first place, but be prepared to work for it.
The album opens with “Alien Days”, featuring a trippy duet between frontman Andrew VanWyngarden and a young boy straight from The Village of the Damned. This decision sets up an album of promising youthful whimsy and fantastical exploration. “Alien Days” may try to cram in more ideas than it needs but it’s passable, it’s what’s after that troubles me. I don’t know that anything on MGMT is offensively bad, just boring. So many “songs” (and I use the word lightly) just plod along, never building to anything worthwhile. I remember when I said MGMT was the new Flaming Lips. Funny, because both of these once avant-garde pop bands have now descended into psychedelic white noise. Just look to the Flaming Lip’s album “The Terror” released earlier this year. The Lips earned their weirdness with a career’s worth of quality work. MGMT just sounds like they’re trolling everybody.
Thank god there’s at least one song, one needle of hope in this haystack of dispair. I like the song “Plenty of Girls in the Girl”. After “Alien Days” it’s the only song I feel that captures the whimsy MGMT should’ve tried to explore more thoroughly. It’s a bit off-the-wall (big surprise), but at least it’s optimistic. Remember when this band was fun? “Time to Pretend” and “Kids” were catchy radio darlings, but everything on this album feels like a big, “Fuck You!” That’s how I feel as a fan, alienated. I don’t know what I want from this band at this point and wonder how much longer I’m going to care.
Favorite Tracks: “Alien Days,” “Plenty of Girls in the Sea,”