Another day in Ground Zero of Corporate Hell.
Here we go.
God help me.
I’m keeping on with the WTF? theme I established yesterday and going with the ‘Oracular Spectacular‘ album by MGMT.
So here’s what you need to know off the bat:
This album was listed as #48 on NME’s list of the “Druggiest Albums Ever”.
Then it had this to say about it:
“How much acid were MGMT taking around their debut album? Naked gig amounts of acid? Album sleeves dressed as Kevin Rowland and Jim Morrison gone native on a Goan mushroom farm in 2056 amounts of acid?”
I’m guessing the answer is ‘yes’?
In all seriousness though, Rolling Stone also listed it at #18 on their 100 Best Albums of the 2000’s and #494 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, so it can’t be all that bad, can it?
Basically, MGMT is two hipster geeks from Wesleyan plugging into their rad vintage keyboards, picking out some fetching headbands and composing a suite of damn-near-perfect synthesized heartache. The songs on ‘Oracular Spectacular’ get even better if you tune in close to the vocals — but you don’t have to figure out a single word of ‘Kids‘ to feel the poignant kick of that massive nine-note keyboard hook. The whole album is an odd collection of 70’s style psychedelic love-bead sensibility and 80’s New Wave cool — but there’s also a sense that MGMT only could have happened at that time (2007).
When the band were asked by their record label for a list of their dream producers, with low expectations they sarcastically replied: Prince, Nigel Godrich, Barack Obama, and “not Sheryl Crow.” Columbia returned with Dave Fridmann, the producer extraordinaire best known for his work with Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev.
In typical Fridmann fashion, ‘Oracular Spectacular‘ is a glamorous mega-production through and through. Drums are massively distorted and shimmering keyboards are articulately layered as he takes the reins, leading the duo through his daisy chain of on-board compressors, delay units, and whatever other mysterious studio gizmos and gadgets he uses to get his trademark sound. Expectedly, the 14-karat polish enhances MGMT’s blend of psychedelic and indie-electro to a shiny sonic gleam, resulting in some of the catchiest pop songs to come from NYC since the turn of the millennium.
The tunes sound classic and new all at once, paying homage to Bowie, the Kinks, and the Stones, while updating traditional progressions with flashes of Royal Trux, Ween, and LCD Soundsystem. It’s a wonderful mess of musical ideas, ranging from the dancy disco thump and Bee Gees falsetto of ‘Electric Feel‘ to the gritty acoustic-based ‘Pieces of What‘, to the grimy synth groove on the anthemic ‘Time to Pretend‘. With tongues planted firmly in cheeks, sardonic wit is as abundant as Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser spoof the stereotypical rock & roll lifestyle with lines like “Lets make some music, make some money, find some models for wives/I’ll go to Paris take some heroin and fuck with the stars.”
Rest assured that this went over very well here at Corporate Hell this morning.