Friday, February 15, 2008

Of Moons, Birds & Monsters — MGMT (2008)

I hate doing this so soon after Valentine's Day but there's never a good time to say stuff like this. I like MGMT. I enjoy the time we spend together. It's just ... (deep breath) ... I don't love them and, to be perfectly honest, I don't know if I ever will. I hope MGMT and I can still hang out once in a while, have some fun, be friends. But do we have a long-term future? I don't think so.

What's been going on between us isn't some tawdry fling. I've been spending a lot of quality time with Oracular Spectacular, the debut album from the Connecticut duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden. And, sure, I've been charmed. The former art students fill their songs with memorable hooks, musical twists and clever, smart-ass lyrics. Add typically trippy, OTT production from Dave Fridmann and MGMT comes across as Flaming Lips Jr., with echoes of Ween, Suicide and Bowie/Bolan, an admirably diverse collection of influences.

So what's not to love?

It's the niggly stuff.

I'm not sure where Fridmann's contributions end and MGMT's begin. Fridmann's fingerprints are all over Oracular Spectacular and, in the end, the record is more of a showcase for the Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev producer's aural tricks than for the duo's talents. Put it this way: I cannot imagine what MGMT would sound like without Fridmann. This is not a good thing.

Also, the songs that suck you in upon first listen — first single Time To Pretend, Electric Feel and Kids — seem a little too eager to please, a little too cognizant of their hipster aspirations, on repeated plays.

Of Moons, Birds & Monsters is one track that actually grows in stature over time because it is neither hyper-hooky nor overproduced; it's space-rock that simply exists in its own universe and requires the listener to search it out.

MGMT should play hard-to-get more often.

Of Moons, Birds & Monsters (link expired)

Buy it here


Anonymous said...

You should go hear them live before you break up. They will surprise you.

DVeitch said...

If MGMT came to my neck of the, er, prairies, I'd definitely want to check them out. I do like the record but I suspect I'd like them live more. Certainly the live clips I've seen on YouTube back this theory. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

the vast majority of the album is made up of the actual demo takes that MGMT made alone. fridmann added very little, instrumentation-wise.