Album review: MGMT - Little Dark Age
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MGMT have overseen a blazing renaissance; transcending the mire of pessimism, their morbid humour serves as a subtext beneath dense, technicoloured compositions. Little Dark Age is multi-layered; at once a dedicated trawl aimed at plundering the 80s of all its most iconic tropes and a disturbing, psycho-political commentary on contemporary America. The album begins triumphantly with the unhinged ‘She Works Out Too Much’, which is instrumentally indebted to aerobics culture and self-aware of its status as the opening track, proclaiming – “Get ready to have some fun!” This “active” participation is complemented by the detachment with which we react to current events referenced in the lyric, “Welcome to the shitshow, take a comfortable seat” – a theme explored throughout the record. The title track, a melancholy synth pop gem reminiscent of The Cure at their gothiest peak, is masterful and deserves to be regarded among the best singles of 2017. Careful stacking of vintage tones builds up to vividly suggest the court of some mysteriously nocturnal aristocrat. Thematically, the song deals with desensitisation to gun violence as vocalist Andrew Van Wyngarden sings, “The image of the dead, deadens in my mind”. At five minutes, it’s fairly lengthy, but sustains interest through a constantly mutating instrumental accentuated by whip-crack gated-reverb snares. Track three, ‘When You Die’, sheds the former’s gothic cloak but plunges further into darkness; parts of the song seem drawn from carefree 60s soul, but this is juxtaposed with the lyrics such as – “I’m ready, ready, ready to blow my brains out”. Crescendos build with a frenzy of arpeggiated synth then abruptly cease, giving way to a more acoustic aesthetic. Sampled laughter creates an unsettling atmosphere coupled with queasy modulation of key.
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