Some bands spend their careers chasing and attempting to repeat the success of a few early songs. This is the case with MGMT and their newly released self-titled album, "MGMT."
MGMT is an American rock band that does not cleanly fit into one specific genre. They could also be described as pop, electronica or some other unique mixture. Their songs are a direct reflection of the complicated, unclear combination that is MGMT.
Their first album, "Oracular Spectacular," released in 2008, brought the band unexpected attention and achievement. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the 18th best album of the decade, and the songs "Kids," "Time to Pretend" and "Electric Feel" led to MGMT's nomination for the Best New Artist Grammy.
These songs were instant hits and became the face of MGMT. Their second album didn't compare to their the band's first, and unfortunately, the newest release strays even further from their initial triumph.
People admire and appreciate originality, especially in a music industry that can be generic and replicable. "MGMT" is certainly not typical, but they go too far in the opposite direction.
The first song of the album, "Alien Days," provides a hopeful beginning. It is less disorienting and is more like a typical arrangement than the rest. Some of the lyrics are even sung by a child, which is interesting and different.
"Your Life is a Lie" was released early as a single, and is now the most popular of the 10 tracks. It does have fuzzy guitar sounds, but it is not as overpowering. This song is easier to listen to and more manageable, so it appeals to more people.
Most of the time, the singer's vocals sound detached, and it can be hard to understand what he is saying. Once they are heard correctly, though, they make little sense. For some, this does not detract from the album; MGMT has always had quirky lyrics.
For example, the song "Plenty of Girls In The Sea" says, "The bartender concedes, from inside his vest / That none of the best ones were ever the best / So keep it short, simple and sweet / Cause there's plenty of girls in the sea."
The verses might be random and contradictory, but that is the norm for this group.
The major problem is that the tracks sound overworked. "A Good Sadness" is a solid representation of this album's sound. It sounds cluttered and messy, because too many instruments and synthesizers are competing for priority.
This band enjoys experimenting with rhythm and beats. They feel awkward at times, because they are uneven and complicated.
An excess of effects and unrecognizable sounds robs songs of their melodies. Hints of these melodies arise throughout "MGMT," but most of the time not for the entire duration. They are hiding among the electronica dissonance.
MGMT's debut showed that they are capable of catchy riffs, and that is what made the group popular. Obviously, they are comfortable with a wide variety of musical effects and sounds.
If they restrained themselves and kept some of the sounds separate, it would more easily showcase their potential talent and intricate arrangements. But heavy bass lines and endless flourishes are distracting.
They seem to have changed their style along the way. This accounts for the current fan base that looks dismal when compared to what they had five years ago. Their initial pop style is more pleasing to the general public, but pop can eventually blend into the other songs on the radio.
Despite the overproduced and chaotic nature of "MGMT," there is something to be said for a band that is not afraid to take risks. They are not attempting to conform, which is respectable. Perhaps they are not trying to please the crowd, and they just want to do what feels right to them.
While effort can be acknowledged, however, it ultimately doesn't make up for the cluttered mess that is "MGMT."