Tucked away from the city centre, a tiny square of warmth exists. A haven for the vinyl-inclined, Vinilo record shop has as much charm and character as your favourite grandpa, and it’s here we get to listen to the new MGMT album Little Dark Age.
The dreamy, incense-infused atmosphere lends itself to the record, which feels like a step in a calmer direction for the Connecticut duo. Long gone are the hyperactive melodies of Congratulations, as Little Dark Age sets a tone that isn’t necessarily serious – opener ‘She Works Out Too Much’ is a break-up tune narrated by a work out video instructor – but it’s certainly earthlier than anything they’ve conjured up previously.
Surrounding the singles, which veer towards the more predictable synth-pop sound of the ‘80s, are a number of interesting tracks which reference the band’s early psychedelic sound, with a level of sophistication that was missing on Oracular Spectacular. ‘TSLAMP’ is a hypnotic pop song, channelling the universal inability to put one’s phone down. ‘Days That Got Away’ swirls from ear to ear with nothing truly solid to hold onto bar the recurring synth melody, giving way at the end to a flute that nods vigorously to Kraftwerk’s Autobahn. It’s within these album tracks that it emerges that this fourth album is pretty krautrock – the essence of Can is abundant through the slowly churning patterns of ‘Hand It Over’ and within the instrumentation of ‘When You Die’, even ‘James’ feels krautrock, if in a more Horrors kind of way.
Little Dark Age mingles boisterous nostalgia-pop with a strong sense of introspection, something MGMT have managed consistently since their formation. However, this album feels that touch more erudite, each sound and lyric conveying their decade of mixed successes and failures within the industry. You get the idea that MGMT’s knowledge stretches further than we ever expected, verging on the sage-like presence their first album conjured up, but they’re not just playing dress-up this time.
Words by Maddy Hardman