If you were expecting MGMT to finally return to the Coachella friendly, stadium-filling sounds of songs like “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” well…you just haven’t been paying attention, kid. MGMT (in)famously springboarded off the surprise success of those early electro indie pop hits to take a trip into Syd Barrett land on their subsequent releases, and they haven’t really been back since. That’s not to say they devolved into psychedelic pastiche. Instead, the duo have always creatively borrowed past sounds of disparate eras and put them back in a Frankenstein way, creating dense, pseudo-proggy albums that are a treat for headphone listeners but not so much for festival goers.
No, they still don’t sound like the MGMT of Oracular Spectacular. But they just may have created the evil twin counterpart to their most commercial release. Little Dark Age is undoubtedly a nocturnal album, full of icy sounds and gothic imagery. Jettisoning the 60s organs, reverb soaked guitars, and acid trip unpredictability of their last couple releases, it also happens to play with the same electronic textures of those big hits from a decade ago: big synths and big drums with catchy as hell melodies on top. These melodies just happen to be sunshine-averse, a perfect response to the wide-eyed optimism of their early singles. Little Dark Age provides more of an answer to the elusive question of who the “real” MGMT are on their most mature album yet.