MGMT are finally back
Five fallow years. We had to wait until 2016 for MGMT to hit the studio, under the sun of the US West Coast.
Little Dark Age marks the glorious return of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, heroes of the soundtrack to the 2000s. After an eponymous album which was less impressive than Oracular Spectacular (2007) and Congratulations (2010), this fourth work takes off on a synth-pop tangent. They needed to evolve. All alone, the Brooklyn team started to feel their isolation. On production, we find Dave Fridmann, ex-Mercury Rev, and Chairlift guitarist, Patrick Wimberly, who manages a double triumph. Channelling their genius and opening it out to collaborations: Connan Mockasin, who can be found in the album's title clip, and the main synth freak, Ariel Pink.
In a more sombre vein which binds form to content, MGMT draws out nuances in the form of homages to the Cure, Gothic and even pop flavours. If the acid sheen of their youthful works had the character of a bad trip (You die, And words won’t do anything, It’s permanently night), the psychedelic effervescence dries up to give way to a baroque pop sound, the quilted synths of Hand it Over showing that the priority here is levity. The heritage of Robert Smith has replaced the hippy bandanas, without quite filling Andrew's head with post-punk fatalism. On the contrary.
Struck by occasional inspirations (TSLAMP, She Works Out Too Much), MGMT are playing on the halcyon days of the Eighties, when new wave unfurled across Europe (the ambiguous Me & Michael). This recipe brings forth Little Dark Age and When You Die, marked by the dark synths and vivid melodies that Ariel writes along with the lyrics. An album like a rough-hewn gem. Frustrating, delightful, but with the allure of a thing incomplete.