Little Dark Age is the fourth album by New York duo MGMT. For Little Dark Age, the band leaves behind their psych-prog-ambient saturated sounds found on previous albums to explore the late 20th century synth-driven production manual, taking cues and melodies from classic 1980s and early 1990s R&B, adult contemporary, modern rock, and even top 40. It works effortlessly. An early candidate for my best of 2018.
Something else from the press release:
MGMT’s music has always pinballed between accessibility and experiment, pop, and psychedelia—a tension that has produced some of the catchiest, most synapse-stretching music of the young century. Reining in the freak-outs of 2013’s MGMT, the band’s fourth album plumbs their (relatively) accessible side, refracting ’80s-style synth-pop (“Little Dark Age,” “One Thing Left to Try”) and ’60s jangle folk (“When You Die”) through a warped, surrealistic sense of humour—a sound at once cheerful and violent, eerie and inviting, light and thrillingly dark.
1. (4:38) ** She Works Out Too Much – FCC (Shit). Upbeat piece with tints of anime, twee and 1990s Alternative. Reminds me of those Japanese pop releases on Emperor Norton records of the late 1990s. Catchy.
2. (4:59) *** Little Dark Age – Medium tempo recording. Gloomy and dramatic. Think of early 1980s British synth pop. Works for me.
3. (4:23) When You Die – FCC (Fuck). Medium-up track. Part Baroque pop, part synthwave. Dark.
4. (4:49) *** Me and Michael – Medium-up tempo electro pop recording. It could belong to any 1980s soundtrack with Molly Ringwald in it. Instant classic.
5. (4:30) * Tslamp – Slow/Medium tempo piece. 1980s influenced – Part adult contemporary, part R&B pop. Lionel Richie would be proud.
6. (3:52) * James – Medium-up tempo baroque pop. Nostalgic?
7. (4:44) Days That Got Away – Semi instrumental track. Slow/medium tempo. Think of early The Human League and 1980s Motown R&B pop.
8. (4:20) ** One Thing Left to Try – Medium-up tempo. Synthwave MGMT. Cool track.
9. (3:30) ** When You're Small – Acoustic track. Influenced by Pink Ployd’s 1973 The Dark Side Of The Moon. Curious recording if we compare it to the rest of the album.
10. (4:17) Hand It Over– FCC (Fuck). Slow tempo. Electro pop ballad. Great ending.