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Since the flanged pop of ‘Oracular Spectacular’ blew up unexpectedly in 2007, MGMT, we can safely say, have turned into the confusing, wilfully obtuse band that, behind all the hooks and pop sensibilities of ‘Electric Feel’ and ‘Time To Pretend’, they had quietly promised to be. ‘Congratulations’ surprised many because of precisely this fact, and to a certain extent alienated an entire fanbase, but it also opened up a realm of totally unexplored creativity, based around a less repetitious, more cumulative, and arguably more ‘artistic’ form of music. Far more confused than their debut, ‘Congratulations’ seemed to fold in and over itself in a tangle of bells and whistles, but it did also seem to retain some sort of genuine (admittedly lurking) potential.

Even at its most poppy, this third LP from Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden is in no way a return to the ‘Oracular Spectacular’ MGMT that some will have been hoping for. Instead it forays into the same experimental depths that their second LP so aggressively plunged, though with less clutter, and at least a sly dab of what seems to be artistic direction. In a recent interview, the Brooklyn-based duo called ‘MGMT’ “less paranoid” than ‘Congratulations’, and this seems about right – second single ‘Your Life is a Lie’ though still stubbornly kooky, is garnished with poppy repetition, and the same goes for the familiarly kaleidoscopic ‘Mysterious Disease’ and the playful lyricism of ‘Plenty of Girls in the Sea’.

These songs are certainly less paranoid, and fuse the two previous albums into some sort of workable chimera, but they still lack the confidence and self-assertion of the band’s debut album. Lead single ‘Alien Days’ is representative, and even as its spaced-out bop culminates in refrain, it seems to be another demonstration of the duo’s still lurking – but still undeniably exciting – potential.

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