By Nikki M. Mascali
When a band tries to find its footing following the seminal song or songs that made people take notice, songs like, oh, let’s just say “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” it can go one of two ways. Said band could try to recreate the magic, or it could chart a completely new territory.
Sadly, neither path comes with a guarantee of success, and the verdict, at least that of this reviewer, is still out when it comes to MGMT’s self-titled third album. The album mixes that psychedelic sound one expects from MGMT with a lot of electronic noise, which oftentimes overpowers the vocals.
“Alien Days” starts the record off with a child singing amid shrill keys before opening up to a sweeping landscape that is akin to the Flaming Lips. Yes, we had to jump on the “Compare MGMT to the Flaming Lips” bandwagon because, well, you almost have to. For all intents and purposes, the Flaming Lips are basically MGMT’s cooler older brother, while MGMT, though good in its own right, seems to not quite know who it wants to be when it grows up. Coincidentally, on “Introspection,” the duo ponders, “What am I really like inside?”
“Cool Song No. 2” has an adventurous rhythm and happy percussion throughout while the aforementioned “Introspection,” which comes two songs later, revisits that joyous cadence. The trippy “Mystery Disease” is sandwiched between those two standout tracks.
“Your Life is a Lie” has a very Brit-pop feel to it, while “A God Sadness” is expansive before closing with an almost off-putting beeping sound. “Astro-Mancy,” too, is a vast, yet quiet, track. “Plenty of Girls in the Sea” is fun and light, a nice palate cleanser, though some of the electronic enhancements nearly distract the listener while closing track “An Orphan of Fortune” dials back the noise via a soft instrumental for the first minute and a half before the song lopes on.
As a whole, “MGMT” has a cohesive sound, but there’s the feeling that the band’s masterminds Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden threw in as many bells and whistles as they could simply for the sake of doing so. After a few listens, though, you can see the forest for the trees, and the album does start to grow on you.