MGMT
Loss of Life


3.0
good

Review

by Sowing STAFF
February 24th, 2024 | 98 replies


Release Date: 02/23/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We'll choke on our vomit and that will be the end

From the very moment that MGMT arrived on the scene, they already felt like giants among men. 2007’s Oracular Spectacular spoiled listeners with songs that were impossible to forget and atmospheres that were truly larger than life. That supremely lush and galactic-sounding acid trip brought us “Time to Pretend”, “Kids”, and “Electric Feel”, and from that point on MGMT has been considered one of the standard-bearers of psychedelic indie-pop. Since then, they’ve nestled into a cozy pattern of less brash albums that for the most part are largely underrated, particularly 2010’s Congratulations and 2018’s Little Dark Age. Accurate descriptors for their career to date may include terms like peculiar, quirky, or quite simply fun. They have a very unique approach to songwriting that makes their music recognizable, even to the genre’s most casual bystanders.

Loss of Life changes that. It’s an album that is almost excessively chill, with more than half the album hovering in stasis. Warm acoustics and airbrushed production create an aesthetically pleasing sound, especially on the gorgeous “Nothing to Declare”, but MGMT leans into the vibe a bit too much here. Take “People In The Streets” for instance, which offers up something bordering relevant social commentary on a beautiful acoustic canvas, only to faceplant into a wall of repetition and nondescript lyrics. They clumsily navigate the same general Portugal. The Man meets Foster the People meets The Shins b-sides Bermuda Triangle of amnesia on “Phradie’s Song”, “I Wish I Was Joking”, and “Nothing Changes”, all of which sound like they belong on the album but are almost impossible to actually recall or glean any true meaning from. To be fair, MGMT has never been known for life-altering lyrical/emotional depth, and even Oracular Spectacular has its share of clunkers, but on Loss of Life the hits aren’t nearly strong enough to lift the rest of the album out of the mud.

For being something of a departure – and an ironic one at that considering that this might be their safest and most generic outing yet – MGMT still sound their best when they revert to their roots. “Bubblegum Dog” brings the strange in the same way that “When You Die” or “Flash Delerium” did – and the eccentricity pays dividends once again in the form of a super infectious cut that turns out to be one of Loss of Life’s few obvious highlights. The title track, “Mother Nature”, and “Dancing In Babylon” all mark moderate successes in some way shape or form – the former with its heavenly and almost Beach Boys adjacent vocals, the second with its breathtaking melody and effortless progression, and the latter primarily due to an outstanding guest effort from Christine and The Queens. The pieces are here, and the artistic intent to create something markedly serene and different is palpable, but the whole picture never really comes together. I want to buy what Loss of Life is selling, but it’s sorely lacking the energy and unique spark that comprises MGMT’s core DNA. It feels like an excellent EP that was spread thin across a much larger obligation, and while this band’s floor still resides somewhere around “pretty good”, we’ve come to expect more than inoffensive, lukewarm indie-pop from these guys. MGMT should save that for the thousands of other indie bands out there that all sound exactly like this, and go back to the stupidly fun and unpredictably bizarre music that most of us fell in love with.



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user ratings (101)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
markjamie
February 24th 2024


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this a lot more than you. I really enjoyed the change of pace and the melodic mellowness of many of the songs. Agree about People in the Streets - which I'm not really feeling yet - but I like the rest a lot. And the quirkiness is still there, just more understated; no one else could make this album.

For me, yet another very good MGMT album in the 3.5 - 4.0 range that just eludes true greatness.

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I actually feel like this is their most generic album yet in the sense that other bands could easily make it. It's very mellow and acoustically driven compared to their previous works, and there isn't a whole lot about it that demands replay (this goes beyond a lack of catchy melodies, there just isn't much interesting going on musically or lyrically either). The one thing I'll admit is that I admire their push for growth -- this is another MGMT album that pushes the band into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory for them, I just think this time it doesn't really suit them. Bubblegum Dog, Nothing to Declare, Mother Nature, Dancing In Babylon, and Loss of Life are all pretty good and elevate this to a 3, but it's still only in competition with their very average self-titled album for me. OS, Congratulations, and LDA are all leagues better.

DoofDoof
February 24th 2024


14938 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

One of the most consistently mid level bands out there

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I disagree with everyone in the thread at the moment 😆

Sagacious13
February 24th 2024


7 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review, I feel every time I listen to it I tick it down again. what you wrote about feeling like the pieces are there but don't fully come together really rings true for me. I still rate it a little higher which could very well be bias on my end but the album still feels overall disappointing even if there are lots of moments I enjoy

artificialbox
February 24th 2024


1482 Comments


kinda feeling the same about this. it’s nice and chill and theres a few good moments but the whole second half of the album just faded out for me. gonna give it a few more spins before rating tho. if anything this album has just motivated me to finally listen to Little Dark Age.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2024


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A 3 feels a bit generous for this, given how bland I find a majority of this, but Mother Nature and People In The Streets kinda rule in my book.

DocSportello
February 24th 2024


3361 Comments


who’d guess I’d feel this way
like a kid in a candy store


AmericanFlagAsh
February 24th 2024


13192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmm not sure how I feel about this on first listen

Bubblegum Dog is real good tho

AmericanFlagAsh
February 24th 2024


13192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

“ One of the most consistently mid level bands out there”



Lol no

markjamie
February 24th 2024


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely not.

"Frustratingly intermittently brilliant" seems more apt. Time to Pretend is one of the best songs of the century and an MGMT "Best of..." would be essential listening.

Mother Nature and Nothing to Declare are amongst their best singles and Bubblegum Dog is not far behind; the latter sounds the most like their older stuff which is probably because it is has apparently been around in some form for years.

They have definitely gone in a new direction here, and I'm here for it. Dancing in Babylon, Nothing Changes, Phradie's Song and Loss of Life are all highlights for me and explore new territory for MGMT.

It's not perfect, but no MGMT album ever has been.

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

---"Frustratingly intermittently brilliant"---

Precisely this. I don't know if they've ever put out an album that is up to their standards front to end. I think Congratulations came closest for me, but even there I skip some tracks. Yet, every single album has at least 1-2 absolutely essential bangers. I have Oracular Spectacular 5'd due to the sheer strength of the best songs on it. It probably doesn't deserve a 5, but I have been regularly jamming Time to Pretend, Kids, Electric Feel, and even Youth for...like 18 years? There's no end in sight to that steak and I consider Time to Pretend and Kids to be two of the best songs released in my life. Sometimes, albums like that get the benefit of the doubt because their singles are just too fucking good lol. I don't get any of that from any songs here, and it's not consistent or hooky enough to land in Congratulations/LDA territory, but I'm some glad others are enjoying it.

sharkmsc
February 24th 2024


445 Comments


Agreed that Time to Pretend and Kids are just legendary. Curious to hear this whole album though, "Dancing In Babylon" moved me in ways I didn't expect and indeed indicated a new direction.

markjamie
February 24th 2024


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

OS definitely had the highest highs; first 5 songs were all killer for me - I'd add Weekend Wars to your list Sowing.

Dancing in Babylon clicked for me yesterday. Great song.

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Also for what it's worth, this would be my MGMT greatest hits (off the top of my head anyway, without going through the effort of relistening to everything):



1. Time to Pretend

2. Kids

3. Youth

4. Electric Feel

5. It's Working

6. Flash Delerium

7. Siberian Breaks

8. Lady Dada's Nightmare

9. Congratulations

10. When You Die

11. Me and Michael

12. Hand It Over



Not sure anything from this album warrants inclusion yet but time will tell!

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

---I'd add Weekend Wars to your list Sowing.---



Weekend Wars is definitely my 5th favorite on Oracular Spectacular, then 4th Dimensional Transition would be #6. Neither of them are quite good enough to make a greatest hits though, IMO. Congratulations doesn't have any song as good as Time to Pretend or Kids, but it has the most songs on my hypothetical greatest hits collection.

markjamie
February 24th 2024


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ooooh... I want to do this too.



1 Time To Pretend

2 Kids

3 Flash Delirium

4 When You Die

5 Nothing To Declare

6 Mother Nature

7 Alien Days

8 Me And Michael

9 Little Dark Age

10 Youth

11 It's Working

12 She Works Out Too Much

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Also I don't know if anyone else remembers when they performed Time to Pretend on some late night show (might have been Letterman, might have been Conan) wearing capes, but it was actually well in advance of Oracular Spectacular... that was the moment I became hooked. I immediately googled the band and downloaded the song from limewire or napster or whatever shitty program I used back in like 2006/2007 lol.

Sowing
Moderator
February 24th 2024


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@markjaime that's an excellent GH too. I barely remember anything from their s/t, so I'll have to check Alien Days again to see if it sounds better to me now than it did when that album came out.

markjamie
February 24th 2024


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, their S/T lost me a bit, but Alien Days is awesome. Also Introspection And Cool Song No. 2 are great too.

And found it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KChqBVHXwt0

Got shivers watching it actually... so good.



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