Monday, May 3, 2010

MGMT: Congratulations

I can tell you a little about MGMT and their sound with the following short story. A week or so ago I was working in the kitchen listening to this album and my 17-year old daughter said sadly, “I wish we liked the same kind of music.” The lesson here is: if your taste stops squarely with Taylor Swift and The Fray, you might not like MGMT. I, however, love this album.

MGMT was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2010 Grammy’s, and a couple of the songs from their first album, Oracular Spectacular, landed on Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 best songs of the decade in 2010. I bought those songs but didn’t love them enough to pull the trigger and buy the entire album, despite the recommendation of a trusted friend. When I started reading about the second album coming out, I decided to give it a try. I am not sorry!

MGMT was started by a couple guys who were attending Wesleyan, and I can only say they sound like they have a tumultuous relationship, going for months at a time without speaking to each other, despite being on tour together. The band has three other members, and the original name of the group was Management, but I guess they opted to just go with the abbreviation. They shy away from self promotion and there isn’t much information about them on their website, although you can submit some of your own artwork to be displayed on it if you want (random).

All of this is fascinating but doesn’t really tell you why you should try listening to MGMT. In fact, you might be put off initially because they sound “different” than what you’re used to, but that is exactly why you should try them. The main word I would use to describe why I like them is “interesting”. Their sound changes from one song to the next, and even within songs it changes- loud, soft, fast, slow.

I watched MGMT on Saturday Night Live last weekend and these guys are pretty freaky looking, so you might be better off just listening to them in case the sight of them makes you think they could carry you straight to the grunge scene. Apparently one of their moms pleaded with her son to stop discussing his drug use in interviews, but the interview I read had lots of drug references. It comes through a bit in some of their songs, and you might need to be a little patient to acclimate, but I promise the songs grow on you.

For beginners, I would recommend It’s Working, Someone’s Missing or Congratulations, which are my favorites. Fun fact: Paul McCartney chose MGMT to open for him during his 2009 tour. So now you have both me and one of the Beatles saying these guys are good, which should be reason enough to give them a try.

By the way, I will not remain this prolific for long if you’re fearful of the barrage of suggestions. Right now I’m listening to some unrelated singles and I promise I will not be recommending all of them. For now, however, enjoy MGMT!

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