They were the sound track to high school experiences, they were the feel-good songs of summer and they were just pure fun. MGMT was all of those things but its new direction bears no resemblance to their former selves.
MGMT’s self-titled third album is underwhelming. The minds behind beloved break-out singles such as “Time to Pretend,” “Kids” and “Electric Feel” present a psychedelic sound that struggles to grab listeners’ attention.
While the songs on MGMT are textured and atmospheric, the catchy hooks have vanished. The duo’s vocals have faded into the background and become nothing more than an afterthought. The melodic synth lines from “Time to Pretend” and “Kids” have been diluted, resigned to single notes that last the length of an entire song. This is the new MGMT — a whispering, timid shell of its former self.
The band has matured musically, using more complex beat patterns and creating sprawling soundscapes, but its craft comes across as self-indulgent and overdone, making MGMT the least accessible of the duo’s albums. The opener, “Alien Days” sounds like a late 1960s Beatles track that is somehow even more hallucinatory. “I Love You Too, Death” begins just as creepily as the title suggests, and as soon as the music appears to be going somewhere, the mumbled vocals and blaring synth pads fade, leaving listeners unsatisfied.
The album’s second single is perhaps its saving grace. “Your Life Is a Lie” is the catchiest song, throwing relatable lyrics on top of triumphant synth organs and crashing percussion. At a mere 2:06 runtime, the album’s best moment is short-lived.
A generally moody album that lacks gumption, MGMT feels incomplete. Once headed to the top of the psych-pop genre, MGMT has receded to the fringes of the music scene, becoming less and less relevant with each album. But maybe, as the song “Introspection” suggests, that’s what the duo wants. The songs on this album feel like the songs that didn’t make it onto an Animal Collective album — skeletal, undefined and lacking in character. With a general lack of accessibility and overall effort, MGMT is the once-promising group’s most disappointing album to date.