By: Sun Noor
The American psychedelic and experimental rock duo MGMT finally released their fourth record entitled Little Dark Age on February 9th after somewhat of a hiatus. This marks nearly five years since their preceding self-titled album has surfaced.
Little Dark Age was without a doubt one of the few records from the first quarter of the year that I have been looking most forward to. Dynamic duo Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have always had the tendency of taking on new directions with their music whether it revolves around the use of unconventional instruments or sounds that manage to captivate their auditors. The band previously mentioned that experimentation allows for more amusing and interesting ways to approach pop music. Their music undoubtedly creates a pleasantly hallucinatory effect which makes for an incredible show given their trippy visuals. Little Dark Age contains elements of the catchy and dance-able pop tunes found their debut Oracular Spectacular as well as the spacey psychedelic outros similar to the songs off Congratulations.
MGMT are known to be quite consistent in terms of their working methods. Their last three albums were derived from jam-like studio sessions between the two in complete isolation. Nevertheless, the band opted to work in a more methodical and collaborative manner alongside musicians and producers such as Ariel Pink, Connan Mockasin, James Richardson and Patrick Wimberly. The social and collaborative environment that revolved around the record influenced the notion of friendship which greatly influenced tracks such as “Me and Michael” and “James,” which is an ode to James Richardson who is the band’s guitarist/keyboardist. In fact, Ariel Pink sings the Chorus with Vanwyngarden on their third single “When you die” which also happened to be their first song that they finished recording. In terms of direction, the band states to have been under the impression that they were going to release a series of singles and EP’s before writing “Little Dark Age” which became the mould for the record, hence its title.
The album explores current themes such as the political climate especially in the US. The duo expressed that the outcome of the 2016 presidential election resulted in identity loss and dark times. They were focused on making a record that people can resonate with the inclusion of themes such as hardship and feeling powerless which appears to be expressed in one of the slower songs, “When you’re Small.” As well, technology obsession which appear to be criticised in “Tslamp” (Time spent looking at my phone). The first singles, “Little Dark Age” and “Me and Michael” as well as the track “One Thing Left to Try” really stand out, since they are the record’s super upbeat, groovy pop songs. “When you die” contains catchy riffs and comical lyrics which I very much enjoy, “Hand it Over” is also a perfect culminating track. The drums are quite prominent suiting the slowed down and spacey track.
Download or stream Little Dark Age here
Watch the video for “Me and Michael” below.