Forty years after the Summer of Love (and 30 years after the Summer of Hate), MGMT is celebrating the grand re-opening of the third eye of the world with Oracular Spectacular, an enigmatic and prophetic collection of hallucinatory sounds and hook-riddled Pop tones for the new millennium. MGMT is: Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, two psychic pilgrims whose paths first intersected in the green pastures of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, circa 2002. The pair was drawn to the music of other duos and found themselves incorporating the implications of the hallucinatory power-twee of the Incredible String Band, the roaring subway minimalist Electronica of Suicide, the silky Pop-Soul of Hall & Oates, the pulsing narcotic trance of Spacemen 3, the avant-garde Industrial romanticism of Royal Trux and much more into the constantly evolving sounds of MGMT. Columbia. 2008.
's intriguing cover image features two members of what looks to be the Lost Tribe of Androgynously Handsome Nu-Rave Hippie Natives from Thunderdome. The boys on the cover are MGMT, the highly talented, multi-instrumentalist duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden. Bowie, Muse, Pulp, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Daft Punk, and other major players in the canon of postmodern pomp-pop clearly loom large in MGMT's universe. The group's lyrics play figurative dress-up, too, as when, on "Time to Pretend," the pair imagine that they're already rich and famous. But like the worst of Bowie (Tin Machine, anyone?), these lyrics and music unfortunately ring false, not unreal, per se, but as if not enough effort were put into the endeavor. Stylistically divergent songs like "The Handshake," "Youth," "Electric Feel," and "Weekend Wars" have a lot going for them, and the album is ultimately a promising debut. It just happens to sound like a wayward mix tape. Hopefully, successive albums will have both the cojones
and the cohesion missing here. --Mike McGonigal