Time to Pretend

All right, goddammit, I’ve put off talking about MGMT for as long as I possibly can. I was at this party where a completely drunk douchebag was telling me that Oracular Spectacular is the album of the year. He told me this a million times and kept saying it “one musician to another.”

That was 6 months ago.

The same guy turned me onto The Whigs, a band I actually like a lot more than MGMT. So meeting the dude wasn’t a total waste and, in the interest of fairness, he was more than plenty drunk and might not be a complete douchebag when he’s sober. That said, though, there’s no way that Oracular Spectacular is the album of the year, unless it’s the only album that you heard this year.

You’ve probably heard “Time to Pretend.” I don’t listen to the radio (not being an elitist here, I just don’t do it, at least not that often), but it sounds like the sort of song that is probably fucking everywhere. And that’s actually not a problem for me. “Time to Pretend” is a bombastic pop beauty, the sort of thing The Scissor Sisters would do if they weren’t so infuriatingly awful. It’s the kind of song that should be everywhere so that shittier songs cannot be everywhere. MGMT, which is really just two dudes (Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser), smartly sticks “Time to Pretend” at the front of Oracular Spectacular, allowing its awesomeness to resonate through the next few tracks so that it takes you a while to realize that the album never reaches those heights again. This is a combination of “Time to Pretend” being so awesome and the other songs just not being that awesome.

Still, Oracular Spectacular does have its moments. I really dig “The Youth,” where they sing, “This is a call/ to live and love and sleep together” and “Electric Feel,” which is obviously BeeGees disco pastiche, but it’s a helluva lot of fun and that’s pretty much what Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser are shooting for. They, like girls, just wanna have fun.

For the first five tracks, I had a fucking blast. Then I hit “4th Dimensional Transition” and collided hard with the law of diminishing returns. I’m not the kind of guy who can deal with the disco-pop good times for long- it’s a matter of personal preference. I will never get sick of listening to Tom Waits and I know people who can’t even deal with him for a song (I am madly in love with one of these people). It’s a matter of what you like and MGMT generally doesn’t traffic in the kind of music I like. That’s what made Oracular Spectacular such a pleasant surprise initially – I really dig the first five tracks, listen to them pretty regularly, I just get bored after a while. This is probably because I want my dancey good-time music to ascend to LCD Soundsystem levels and so few dancepop groups can do that. I can’t really hold it against anyone for being less amazing than James Murphy. God knows I’m not that amazing.

“Pieces of What” is the last song on this album that doesn’t completely bore me and, despite how that sounds, I really do recommend Oracular Spectacular, especially people who like this sort of thing more than I do. It’s a fun album to throw on at parties and make people nostalgic for when Beck had fun making music.


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