It’s over 10 years since MGMT released ‘Oracular Spectacular’, a poptastic glitterball of an album that spawned hit singles ‘Time To Pretend’, ‘Kids’ and ‘Electric Feel’. Three years later, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser baffled fair-weather fans with the acid-jazz soup that was 2010’s ‘Congratulations’. And the odyssey continued: 2013’s ‘MGMT’ was an inaccessible curio, implying the band had long disappeared down the rabbit hole.
In some ways, ‘Little Dark Age’ is the biggest curveball of the Connecticut pair’s consistently unpredictable career. If there were a time for an about-return, it was that third record. They’d enjoyed their foray into experimentation, and a self-titled album often indicates a band that’s come back into focus. Here, though, we’re treated to an overdue loop back to pop hookiness. Lead single ‘Little Dark Age’ starts with doomy synth and moody, throbbing bass before blooming into its whirling, Technicolor chorus, while the tinkling, ’80s-influenced ‘Me And Michael’ is a smash that’s waiting to happen.
After more than a decade of insularity, MGMT have thrown open the doors and welcomed you back into their world. In doing so, they’ve had to engage with our messy, unpalatable reality. The record was partly written in the wake of Donald Trump’s shock election and so concludes with the elegiac ‘Hand It Over’. VanWyngarden recently explained the track “envisions an end to all of this”. MGMT’s return to pop is a much more welcome surprise.