sat 20/04/2024

Album: MGMT - Loss of Life | reviews, news & interviews

Album: MGMT - Loss of Life

Album: MGMT - Loss of Life

US art-rock duo see the lighter side of pessimism

MGMT's 'Loss of Life': not supposed to be immediate

The dolefulness of the title Loss of Life is reflected by what’s in the grooves. The lyrics of the Todd Rundgren/Queen-esque fifth track “Bubblegum Dog” include the line “None of this seems like fun but maybe that’s the point, man.” Further in, “Nothing Changes” seems to be about wanting to be rescued from an enervating stasis.

Such melancholy is accompanied by an archness. With its key line “nothing prepares you for loss of life,” it is not possible to take woozy album closer “Loss of Life “ as a po-faced rumination on ceasing to exist. A Day-Glo sense of absurdity is in-keeping with the playful nature of the Sixties psych-pop and Seventies British art-rock MGMT love and brings a Wes Anderson-ish warping of day-to-day sensibilities to the table. This does not mean Loss Of Life is not a serious album. It is. Perhaps too much so.

Musically, Loss of Life is recognisably an MGMT album even though the melodies and arrangements are grander than they have been. “Dancing In Babylon,” featuring a guest vocal from Christine and the Queens, is an altered-state power ballad take on Bruce Springsteen’s The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. The glistening “Nothing To Declare” seems to nod to Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.” Throughout, an undertone hints at the silkier side of the 1969 album by New York psych band Morgen.

Evidently, Loss of Life is not supposed to be immediate. The meaning of the cover image – a 2006 mixed-media artwork by John Baldessari (1931-2020) where acrylic paint and collage were applied to a digital photographic print – is as hard to discern as Messrs Goldwasser and VanWyngarden’s reasons for foregrounding their ostensible world-weariness. Accordingly, this is not the instant classic that 2010’s second MGMT album Congratulations was. Best to let this one bed in and see how it ages.


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