MGMT are back with a new full-length album, but it seems like they stopped by 1985 on their way here. This eclectic mix of tracks sounds like it was directly inspired by the most angsty sounds of the eighties. The first half sounds like a collection of singles trying to cover several genres. From the comedic “She Works Out Too Much” complaint song about a cross-fitting girlfriend, to the almost reggae-esque jams of TSLAMP, the first six songs have a heavy use of slightly off-key synths that give the album an old psychedelic feel to it. Not to say that the album is bad, the second half rounds out to a bit more consistency and there are sporadic moments of musical brilliance throughout the LP. With it comprising of only 10 tracks and clocking out at 44 minutes you won’t have to dig very deep to find them.
The highlight sound is almost certainly the deep and driving bassline from “Little Dark Age”, an instant earworm that will probably pull you into the rest of the album. The video is an amusing, in-your-face parody of The Cure’s look, complete with tangled black hair and smoke-filled gardens while depressed looking, overdressed women look on and periodically sigh. The other redeeming moment is the visual delight that is the “When You Die” video. Using a stage magician as the protagonist to illustrate the monotony of the daily grind amidst an LSD infused smorgasbord of special effects; while VanWyndgarden croons a series of dark and depressing lines about death and suicide sung to a happy-go-lucky tune, it feels like one big homage to The Smiths.
Unfortunately, there is little else that’s new on this album. Like MGMT’s other releases, a few good hooks and catchy tunes are let down by VanWyndgarden’s inconsistent singing style and vague lyrics. Recommended if you’re feeling some 80’s nostalgia and your “Meat Is Murder” cassette won’t play, this will probably do the trick.