(PHOTO CREDIT : MCT CAMPUS)
MGMT’s third album features a different sound than their previous releases.(PHOTO CREDIT : MCT CAMPUS)

WARNING: Those who are expecting MGMT songs similar to previous MGMT hits such as “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” and nothing else should save their money and stop hoping for something MGMT have already moved on from. For those of you looking forward to MGMT continuously breaking new ground, this album may be for you.

Ever since they debuted in 2007 with a bright, buzz-worthy batch of psychedelic-pop in the form of their album “Oracular Spectacular,” MGMT have been trying to pull away from the album. Despite their bright, colorful image and deep dazed looks, MGMT have moved into territory that seems to test the followers they gained with their smash debut. The follow-up, 2010’s “Congratulations,” was more progressive, longer and not very catchy. “Oracular Spectacular” was not meant to be a pop album, but “Congratulations” was a radical response to its success. The title track was about how dissident Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser were to the people they attracted by their success. In response, “Congratulations” turned a lot of people off to the band, but they wanted the hits they heard on alternative rock radio. MGMT were clearly building up to something better and something that progressed to where they wanted to be instead of being kiss-offs to everyone’s expectations.

MGMT’s self-titled abum features three fuzzy guitars and VanWyngarden’s falsetto musing about out-of-this-world topics. This sound clearly fits the band better as it allows them to spread their creative wings and experiment more. “Alien Days” has VanWyngarden lowering his voice on the verses and singing his signature falsetto in the chorus. He sounds like an alien skipping along on a new planet for the first time. The peppy synthesizer is counteracted with a fuzzy, distorted guitar. VanWyngarden dances along, reminiscing about how “those days taught me everything I know/How to catch a feeling/And when to let it go.” The appropriately titled “Cool Song No. 2” follows a Middle Eastern backbeat with a creepy piano leading the way and electronic drums coming up from behind. “Mystery Disease” has a hard-hitting drumbeat and an organ that sounds like The Doors having a meltdown. “A Good Sadness” is probably the closest thing to the “Oracular Spectacular” MGMT sound, with its omnipresent synthesizer and winding drum loops. The lyrics are just as obscure, with VanWyngarden fed through an echo saying how “I can still hear the reflections in the air/Feeding time/Either hemisphere if it’s summer there/Seeking you, taking a dive,/Streets realigned/Ooh ooh ooh/Stored in my mind.” Most of these songs have a very complex, electronic feel to them. They wind in and out with the lyrics often being filtered with some kind of effect. The album relies heavily on keyboards, synthesizers, and organs, much like if Richard Wright was the leader of Pink Floyd.”

MGMT sound as if they have finally found a way to have fun with their music instead of feeling like they need to make a statement with their music. Here, MGMT have combined the imposing volume of their bright debut with the arty weirdness of “Congratulations” to have a more identifiable musical output. These guys are a hint of folk earnest, a lot of psychedelic experimentation and lyricism, and an electronic background to their sound. Is it weird? Absolutely. Will it confuse the people who like “Oracular Spectacular”? Sure, that is why the warning is at the top of this review.

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It may take a listen or two to understand how far MGMT have come, but this is a great record for its fearlessness and mixing of the two sides of MGMT. Now this is one band with one very good sound put to record for the first time. Let us hope that their interstellar voyage is only beginning.

Final Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Essential Tracks: “Alien Days,” “Cool Song No.2,” “Mystery Disease,” “A Good Sadness,” “Astro-Mancy”

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