Veering Off-Course with MGMT’s MGMT

The long wait is over. MGMT’s third studio album is officially released today.

Of course, for those of you who have streamed the full album through the band’s website, the wait has been over for more than a week. In case you missed it, MGMT offered a stream of the new album, the self-titled MGMT, on their website. It’s also accompanied by a visual treat called ‘The Optimizer.’

In their latest interview with the Los Angeles Times, published earlier this September, Benjamin Goldwasser himself admitted that this album sounds less and less pop than its predecessors. And you’ll find that he wasn’t exaggerating things. You can barely make out the chord progressions in each song. Everything is just so thick with layers.

The first track, Alien Days, is no stranger to us since it was released last April, even though having been listening to it for months doesn’t necessarily make the song sound any less odd and unconventional, because that’s just how MGMT do things. Front-man Andrew Vanwyngarden had explained the song as a feeling when “a parasitic alien is in your head, controlling things.” And it seems like it really is what the song does to you. The parasitic alien from the song has now taken hold of your subconscious to prepare and then navigates you as you listen to the rest of the album. The slightly spacey tune of Alien Days also gives you the illusion of taking off to deep space, setting off to the farthest end of the galaxy.

The reverberating Cool Song No. 2 is fuzz-toned and cryptic, while Your Life Is A Lie is no doubt going to be the sing-a-long anthem in the upcoming MGMT gigs. It’s a garage rock chuck, sounding like a jumbled, schizophrenic musical masterpiece. And then there’s Astro-Mancy with its smooth, tribal freak out.

While there’s not enough taste of psychedelia heaven in it, MGMT still has the lush, rich, and thoughtful electronic tone that distinct it from the typical chart-topper electronic music. It’s heavy with hallucinogenic vibe, resulting in the album sounding like a trippy, notional tune—a  different sound from MGMT’s most widely known hits like Time to Pretend or Kids (of which are psychedelic dance rock songs that are easier for the ears to listen). It’s a fact that would confuse the people who are still reeling over those two tracks, and get them all bummed out. But to fans of the band, whimsical and outlandish is how they identify the band as. They bask in the bizarreness of the music, sometimes even longing for more dose of odd and quaint.

MGMT is a genuine and well-thought-out quirkiness. It’s a masterpiece of the wacky, an acid-induced whizzing wonder; it’s how the psychedelic bands from the 60′s would probably have sounded like if they had the same technology and equipments as the ones  MGMT are presented with today. Unlike Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations, you can’t just pick out one song from MGMT and listen to it individually. You will have to listen to all of the tracks to even pick up on the abstract beauty of this album. Each song feels like a continuation from the other; it’s like reading a book—you’ll have to read all of the chapters to really get it.