Monday, 3 December 2012

D CDs #494: Searching For New MGMT

Oh, dear God in heaven; no.

There is simply no way anyone with functioning mechanoreceptors could consider this the 494th best album ever recorded.  You remember that bit in The Insider when Jeffrey Wigand explains how tobacco companies described a cigarette as "a delivery system for the nicotine"?  This disc is the delivery system for "Time To Pretend".  Which, admittedly, is a phenomenally good slice of music - Rolling Stone places it as the 493rd best song of all time, and I have no intention of arguing with that - but since alternative delivery systems for it include just downloading the damn thing, I'm not sure what purpose the full LP really serves.

OK, I'm being slightly unfair.  This isn't an album with just one great song.  It's an album with two great songs ("Kids" may be no "Time To Pretend", but the combination of dark lyrics and that awesome ascending synth line is tasty enough even before you get to the sublime middle eight), alongside one competent one ("Electric Feel", which combines wigged-out panpipes with one of the best funk basslines ever written by a white guy).

Elsewhere, though, everything falls apart.  One can admire the invention in tracks like "Weekend Wars", which features so many shifts in structure that it makes the ADHD punk-rock of mid-period Biffy Clyro sound like a single organ chord held down for forty-five minutes.  But what's the point of all this dervish-like activity if none of it is particularly good?  If all your fiddling around with genres and approaches (and relying more on Grandaddy than I've seen anyone admit) leads you to a second rate knock-off of Queen's "Innuendo" like "4th Dimensional Transition", isn't it worth reconsidering what exactly you're hoping to get out of your recording contract?

Basically, you can divide this album up into thrilling gut-punches and insufferably smug quasi-cleverness.  You can also divide it into songs released as singles.  You get the same two groups either way.

Naturally, having served up three songs and seven half-formed piss-arounds, the band announced they were just being silly on their three singles, and vowed that their follow-up wouldn't have any track that would be commercially viable on its own merits.  Which kind of sums up this whole endeavour; a work of such detached posturing artifice that accidentally generating an emotional reaction in the listener is something to bitch about with disinterest.

Four tentacles (and three of them are for that song).

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