It’s our very last post for 2018, which means it’s time to reveal my ten favorite songs of the year – although chances are, if you’ve been reading this blog more religiously than most, or have a good idea of what I am into, then you’d have guessed some of the songs on this list. For this year, I decided not to have a massive reckoning some time from the beginning of December (too much pressure, that) but instead made up this list as the year went along. It didn’t make it easier: the tenth song (again, this list is in alphabetical order) was added just a few days ago, and that was a song I actually took off the list. I won’t tell you what that is… [NB]
When I reviewed MGMT’s third, eponymous album, I described it as “a reboot of sorts”. Well, put up against Little Dark Age, that description is wrong. This is the reboot – definitely a reboot. It’s not the direction I expected them to take: it seemed they were content with being their weird little selves, at least musically. Now, we have an album that’s more or less streamlined synthpop – there’s a hint of their off-kilter nature running underneath, but for the most part, the record is streamlined synthpop. Perhaps inevitably, it’s a mixed record: for every track that channels the 80s (“Me and Michael”, “She Works Out Too Much”) there’s a track that feels like MGMT are busy catching up with the trend they perhaps accidentally founded, and not really knowing what to do with it. But at least we have a record that rewards the less devoted of listeners, that does not turn them away with what has turned out to be a genuine expression of creativity. Perhaps I shouldn’t call this a reboot, but rather a much-needed reckoning. [NB] | 3/5
I’ll have to admit one thing: this year’s Wanderland line-up felt underwhelming. But then again, such is a risk a music festival takes, more so those of an indie persuasion, because “indie” means everything and nothing at the same time. But tomorrow the festival returns with a line-up led by the Drums, and also includes Architecture in Helsinki, Lucy Rose and the Paper Kites. Tomorrow we’ll see the cool kids show off again (if they could, because DSLRs are not allowed anymore). And tomorrow the rest of us will wonder if next year will have acts that we like. Well, we think we have cracked the formula for a Wanderland act – and we suggest six acts that would do fit nicely with the festival. And no, this is not us being critical or something.
It must be hard to be a band like MGMT. You break out with some of the poppiest songs on the indie-sphere, and then, for your second album, you completely move away and go for a weird, cool, particularly indecipherable record. That one got mixed reactions, so if you’re to stay viable rather than be continually seen as weird, what do you do? MGMT is a reboot of sorts for the New York duo… and it’s, well, I don’t know. The hooks of Oracular Spectacular aren’t back – they did say this sounds more like Congratulations, but while that was deliberately quiet and subdued, this one feels… well, I don’t know. Confused? It is still as adorable as the sophomore release in places, but it mostly feels like the second record slapped with the first record like a fish. In tracks like “Astro-Mancy” and “Alien Days” it comes together; in other places, well, you’ll have to be a dedicated fan to stick around. [NB] | 3/5
“Your Life Is A Lie” by MGMT | Looks like MGMT is back to their old selves. Only they aren’t, because “Your Life Is A Lie”, the second taster off their eponymous third album (after “Alien Days”), sounds very much like a synthesis of the poppiness of Oracular Spectacular and the esoteric weirdness of Congratulations. Also, it’s going way past the red. And this reminds me of Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime”, at least theme-wise. Well, least they’re still playing their own game defiantly… [NB]