The latest efforts of MGMT serve as something surprisingly distinct from their prior LPs, yet it makes sense that MGMT would be the next installment in the band's evolution. From the synth-pop Ocular Spectacular to the guitar-laden Celebration, MGMT has developed an album that can best be described as an anthem to a psilocybin trip. The entire runtime is packed with elements that seem capable of provoking a trip by themselves. On par with a band like Tame Impala, MGMT has fully embraced the psychedelic vibe whilst losing none of their potency in being able to make captivating music. The near seamless flow of the album makes it difficult to discern one song from the next — as the album feels like one continuous track—but, as a listener, this is definitely not a concern. But it was a challenge to choose a song to represent the entire piece. It feels as if you're trying to condense the entire 44-minute run time into 4 minutes; limiting the wide range of sounds into a single perspective.
Though these songs are exemplary in showing how far this band has progressed from their synth roots, the album should be experienced in its entirety. Fragments of this eponymous album won't do it any justice.
That being said, the two tracks that seemed to elevate the album as a whole are "Your Life Is A Lie" and "Cool Song No. 2."
"Your Life Is A Lie" is absurdly short, but delivers, arguably, the hardest-hitting message of the entire LP. From the first crash of the toms and cymbals MGMT shows no restraint in hitting the listener with a steady barrage of candid and honest statements about our reality: "Count your friends on your hands/Now look again/They're not your friends."
Lines like these furnish the duration of the track. It's these simple statements that allow a certain level of reflection to which the listener might not be exposed on a regular basis. The message is a brutal truth that many delude themselves into ignoring. Ironically, the band uses this song as a break, of sorts, in the album. In other words: There are no breaks.
"Cool Song No. 2" is pervaded with aggressive tribal drums, shakers, and tambourines (among other things) throughout. These elements give a primitive feel to the song that is otherwise scarce in the rest of the album. Much like the other songs on this LP — and every LP created by MGMT, for that matter — the song's meaning is very open for interpretation. I'd rather not impede on your own ability to interpret the song, but one of my favorite lines is "If you think that you're free (free like a kite)/ ... Tell me how far you'd go/Knowing your air won't last (Last one to know)." Aside from the cool imagery, it seems to suggest that inanimate objects express more freedom than the animate ones (i.e. humans).
This music isn't for everyone. Even passive fans of MGMT may have a problem with this album. It's meant to be taken in as a whole (as I mentioned above) and with an open mind. Meaning and concrete explanations are ancillary to the feelings that this album aims to evoke. Take it in accordingly.