Tuesday, 1 July 2008

MGMT: Oracular Spectacular

Not so many years ago, one of the best things a new and upcoming band could hope for was to be recognised by the legendary John Peel. A play on his Radio 1 show was the first, and often critical, step towards full recognition.

Sadly, such a thing is no longer possible. However, if - like me - you feel that Steve Lamacq is the closet replacement to Peel that we'll get (I'm sure Lammo - as John himself christened Steve - wouldn't want to be compared to Peel directly, and would be the first to agree that he can't be anywhere close to 'the new John Peel') - then recognition and continued airplay is certainly the next best thing.

Personally, I can't help but wonder if it wasn't for Steve Lamacq's admiration for MGMT if they'd be where they are now. Recognition through BBC Introducing ensured that they become more mainstream at the least (certainly I don't think they'd have come to my attention if it wasn't for their performance at SXSW), and perhaps was the major push required to break them through.

I consider it ironic enough that at Glastonbury last weekend, they performed on the John Peel stage on Friday - the almost spiritual home for new music.

Listening to their first album, there's one really unusual thing that strikes me about it. I can't pick out any tracks as the "stand out" tracks. However, I can't pick out any tracks as the "bad" track from the album either. Using that as a basis, you'd think I'm about to say that the album is decidedly average. But it isn't - I can't pick out anything as a stand-out track because they're all so good.

It's all innovative and eclectic. MGMT are fair removed from the mainstream - "electronic psychedelia" is how I believe it's often described. If you want that something 'different' in your record collection, I can't think of a better album to do it with. You have to be a fan of new and developing music to appreciate it, but appreciate it you will. Every tune is different (Scouting for Girls take note), and twists things in their own little way. Every time you listen to the tracks, you might find something you've never heard before. It really is a listening experience, and not just a pastime.

I still think that the lack of 'stand out tracks' does hurt the album, as there ends up being no track that I want to listen to again and again. Nothing that makes me want to go and find the album so I can listen to one or two particular tracks. I can see it, as a result, becoming an album in the collection as opposed to be an album at the top of the collection - despite it definitely being an immense and powerful piece of work.

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