Review Summary: Fans jumping on the MGMT bandwagon following ‘Oracular Spectacular’ are sure to be impressed, while this would actually be the best starting point for listeners wanting to check out what all the fuss is about.
It seems to be a common phenomenon that casual music fans believe that bands literally come out of nowhere to become successful. In truth, the performers have usually been toiling away for many years going un-noticed until one song breaks them huge. While MGMT are not exactly veterans of the music industry, they have (under the name of ‘The Management’) had 2 EP’s and an album released prior to their breakthrough LP ‘Oracular Spectacular’.
The strange thing about the suddenness of MGMT’s fame is that their breakthrough 2007 hit ‘Time To Pretend’ was in fact included here on this EP which was released in early 2005! And the versions are pretty much identical, with only slightly glossier production livening up the latter version a little more. Either rendition is top-notch, with a super hooky keyboard component positioning itself in your mind against the computerized space-rock background. Meanwhile, vocalists Ben Goldwasser & Andrew VanWyngarden add some lyrical weight by melodically piecing together an amusing send-up of the various misadventures of those in the spotlight.
It is clear that this duo has excellent pop-sensibilities and know how to draw a listener in. But they also know how to provide sufficient variety by having different sounds pulling off a track’s all-important hook. ‘Boogie Down’ replaces the keyboard with something that sounds similar to an accordion, while the key component to the following ‘Destrokk’ is akin to a xylophone. Both of these cuts also build up involvingly as the songs progress, a quality possessed by pretty much every track on this EP.
Track 4 ‘Love Always Remains’ may be the most interesting and polarizing piece included here, partially due to its length of 5:38. A carry-over from their previously released EP, this wanders aimlessly for the first couple of minutes before springing to life with a simple and repetitive chorus whose layered vocals will win some over as it plays in front of a strong beat, hand-claps and then background silence. It does tend to drag on a little too long though.
The more subdued and straight-forward sounding ‘Indie Rokkers’ is then the perfect lead-in to the EP’s closer ‘Kids’. A song which was used on both prior releases (one as a remixed version), this predominantly follows the template of the opening title track except for the fact that the keyboard hook and chorus are even more contagious. Furthermore, the cut has a more positive up-beat feel that turns it into a real-toe-tapper and this EP’s highlight.
Critics will correctly suggest that MGMT compromise their brand of psychedelic space-rock for the sake of accessibility. But there is nothing necessarily wrong with that since the sound has only been attempted fleetingly in the past to limited success. This duo’s greater pop sensibilities are their secret weapon in distinguishing themselves from the not-so-large pack, while this EP contains sufficient variety and remains strong to the very end. So much so, that fans jumping on the bandwagon following ‘Oracular Spectacular’ are sure to be impressed, while this would actually be the best starting point for listeners wanting to check out what all the fuss is about.
Recommended Tracks: Kids, Time To Pretend & Destrokk.