INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE MGMT — ‘Little Dark Age’
THE GOOD: New England indie duo MGMT (vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser) come back with a focused fourth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: It’s been over a decade since these guys scored with the synth-tinged rock set “Oracular Spectacular,” a tight Dave Fridmann-produced playlist that had massive crossover appeal. After that, the guys rallied against mainstream expectations on two follow-ups — the particularly weird “Congratulations” (2010) and the spacey “MGMT” (2013). Both had their moments while being “difficult” in places.
VanWyngarden and Goldwasser now bring back the hooks and approachable vibes. “Little Dark Age” is the most accessible the pair has been since its debut. Sell outs? I would bet not. The guys are simply playing to their strengths. MGMT are damn good at conjuring up catchy, synth-heavy indie pop. So it was time to do that all over again. My guess is all the band’s strange days AREN’T behind it. For now though, just revel in the bliss that is “Little Dark Age.”
BUY IT?: Yep.
OF MONTREAL — ‘White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood’
THE GOOD: Georgia indie rockers Of Montreal (mastermind Kevin Barnes and whomever he’s playing with) give us their 15th.
THE BAD: Not really.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Of Montreal is a rarity in that it’s VERY prolific (a new album comes out almost every year) AND willing to change direction often. Despite being released in quick succession, records often vary greatly from one other.
A few albums back, Barnes was all about the “band” aesthetic. A set such as 2013’s “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” was raw and spontaneous; Barnes created the din with a gaggle of other players. Since then, electronic elements have crept back into the mix, and more so on each subsequent outing.
“White Is Relic” finds the synths and dance grooves taking over; the record is even sequenced more like a collection of extended remixes than a proper LP. But this is all new material, inspired by current American paranoia and ’80s 12-inch singles. So get scared, get down and get crazy. That’s what Kevin wants.
BUY IT?: Yeah.
YOUNG GALAXY — ‘Down Time’
THE GOOD: Canadian electronic duo Young Galaxy goes completely independent on its sixth.
THE BAD: No complaints.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Since husband-and-wife team Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless no longer suffer from record label restraints and expectations, the pair did whatever it felt like on “Down Time.” We reap the benefits of that freedom.
While the duo hasn’t abandoned its pop sensibilities (tight melodic tracks such as “Show You the Valley” and “Frontier” are proof of that), there’s a “chill” vibe running throughout the songs; the entire affair is much more ethereal and otherworldly than past efforts. McCandless’ rich vocals are out front most of the time, but the music doesn’t lose any clout when she’s not around; the swirling backing tracks are just as enthralling.
There’s an ebb and flow to “Down Time” that’s hypnotic. Rhythmic, ambient pieces such as “River” give way to focused bits such as “Stay for Real.” The record pulls you out of unconsciousness with a pronounced beat or hook. Mood swings work beautifully.
BUY IT?: I would.