Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: Good Indy roots still there, but MGMT's newest needs "listener discretion" label

The notice at the beginning of the accompanying video to MGMT's third self-titled album basically explains the album in a nutshell: WARNING — This video has been identified by Epilepsy Action to potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy, viewer discretion is advised.

What this warning is missing, though, is that listeners' discretion is also advised. The trippy psychedelia on steroids is not only noticeable to the eye, but this crazed mind-altering trip is also a side effect of simply listening.

I honestly owe most of who I am today to this band. I kind of hate myself, too, for being so cheesy, but it is true. MGMT introduced me to a world of new music and people. Siberian Breaks, a 12-minute piece of art from sophomore album Congratulations, easily takes the trophy as my favorite song of all time. For the band's meshed-together synths, guitars and a classic psychedelic flare, some called MGMT the new Pink Floyd or Flaming Lips.

Fame and accolade didn't actually happen on purpose, a point the band tries to make clear any chance they get. Most everyone has heard the "terrible threes'' (my nickname for the popular MGMT songs everyone knows): Electric Eel, Time to Pretend and Kids. These were the songs made in Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden's college dorm that gave them the ticket to a big label. But rather than taking the record deal to replicate these hits, they used it to do what they wanted, and they opened the door for countless little indie bands.

Ever since their commercial success, they have been trying to break free from the mainstream, and their first major step was Congratulations. Congratulations confused and angered the fans of the bubblegum-pop they heard on the radio, but this only made MGMT happier. Their fan base was dwindling into a group who truly loved their music.

MGMT is another attempt to distance themselves from conventional Top 10 fans. But, at some point enough is enough; it is obvious when something tries too hard. MGMT is splattered with sound samples layered dizzyingly on top of each other. Sure, there are a handful of songs, such as Plenty of Girls in the Sea, Mystery Disease and Alien Days, that induce the same enthusiasm as Siberian Breaks, but as a whole it seems like they are focusing too much on what they don't want to play, rather that what they do want to play.

HANNAH ELLIOTT, Robinson High

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