Sunday, 6 April 2008

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

Whether you pronounce their name "Em Gee Em Tee", "Management", "Mugmut" or otherwise, the Brooklyn band have here 2008's first truly essential album. The songs take a while to sink into the brain, and may initially slip through as 80s referentialism, but when they kick in, boy do they kick in. The charm spreads and the trappings in disco, hyperbolic-scale electro and grandiose melodies leave the listener defenceless. There's so much going on in each song, be it the Elton John gaiety and less obvious spiralling keyboard line in 'Weekend Wars' or the abundant counter-melody in the relatively downplayed 6/8 of 'The Youth'.And who wants instant anyway; where is there to go when music smacks you hard in the head and leaves you concussed? Whilst MGMT's aims are nothing new, the whole album sounds astoundingly fresh. Another thing which may not be noticed at first is the eloquence of the narrative - tales of excess, birth, death, humanity, and irrelevance. 'Of Moons, Birds and Monsters' is as fluent and verbose as it gets in its Kevin Barnes style of attack: "Even a bird would want a taste of dirt from abyssal dark/The prick of a feather could make a kingdom burn and the bloodshed start".Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann has done a fantastic job, bringing out the subtleties and augmenting the dazzle. 'Electric Feel' is a mindblowing track, and perhaps the most direct of the ten on offer – the supple falsetto on a backdrop of funk hits surprisingly hard and transports direct to aural heaven. The psychedelia of 'Kids' evokes Of Montreal once more, circa 'Sunlandic Twins' this time around. The electro sensation of opening track 'Time To Pretend' drenches itself in a resonance of gluttony, weaving in and out of synth semi-grandeur via colossal hooks – it is simply sublime. All told, with the benefit of a few more months' company and a load more plays, it could be verging on a perfect rating. This is absorbing pop music at its best.

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