American indie rock institution MGMT have revealed that they are back in the studio to record what is presumably the band’s fifth studio album.
The band’s previous album was 2018’s Little Dark Age, which received praise for its more immediate and accessible sound compared to the dense production and musical style of their previous records, leading to comparisons with the duo’s debut, 2007’s Oracular Spectacular.
The band took three years to release a follow up to Oracular and expectations were high after singles ‘Kids’, ‘Time to Pretend’ and ‘Electric Feel’ took off. The result, 2010’s Congratulations, was a sprawling and highly ambitious left turn that found the band trading in many of their monster hooks for dark and trippy psychedelia. Congratulations is a challenging record, one without the crowd-pleasing stadium-ready elements that made Oracular such a big success.
Even though Congratulations represented the best sales of the band’s career up to that point, the album was met with a decidedly mixed reception. Some considered the album adventurous and a necessary step back from the poppiness of their debut. Others saw it as self-indulgent and formless. Songs like ‘Flash Delirium’ and ‘Brian Eno’ work well to propel the band into a new and exciting future, and in the time since its release, Congratulations is starting to sound more and more like a direct challenge to their newfound fame that actually pays off in dividends.
With the release of their self-titled third album, MGMT were in solid meltdown mode. Years of constant touring lead to a burnout that you can actually physically hear on MGMT. It sounds lagging and uninspired. With the more experimental avenues previewed on Congratulations taking a front seat in the new recordings, the band were simply throwing every idea at the wall to see what would stick, and the result is a confusing, formless mess.
A hard reset had to be taken after MGMT, and the band took a well-deserved break. As the world changed around them, new considerations had to be made regarding what an MGMT album meant in 2018. As it turned out, the band were not yet a spent creative force. Little Dark Age was a half-comeback, half-coronation: a celebration of everything that made the duo unique with a return to the hooks and catchiness that hadn’t been a major facet of the band’s music since a decade prior.
Whatever comes out of this return to the studio, MGMT have proved that they have a strong foundation and can survive almost anything. Here’s hoping that bodes well for any future music.