Reviews

MGMT “Loss of Life” Album Review

Loss Of Life

Album • MGMT • 2024
10 songs • 45 minutes

From their wildly acrobatic psychedelic rock of Congratulations (2010) and MGMT (2013) to their remarkably melancholy comeback to form in Little Dark Age (2018), MGMT seems to have been on a lifelong mission to baffle both fans and critics. “Loss of Life,” the band’s fifth studio album, finds a deliciously sweet spot between the psych-pop promise of their early work and their honorable, if obstinate, quest to produce something more nuanced.

That is not to argue that MGMT is no longer an amusing group. MGMT appears to have discovered freedom to create the music they want without sacrificing anything here, even after spending the majority of their career signed to a large label. The tense tension of unmet expectations that formerly hung over them has vanished—and it can be heard in the songs.

Album Cover Art

Mgmt &Quot;Loss Of Life&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 21, 2024

The album’s cover art is simply a creative piece of art named “Noses & Ears, Etc. (Part Two)” and was made in 2006 by the renowned artist John Baldessari. It depicts “two fleshly faces with blue ears and noses, two fleshly hands, and a hobby horse.”

The cover artwork was created by master conceptual artist, John Baldessari, who is renowned for his use of geometric graphics superimposed over a variety of portrait photos.

Tracks and Features

The album begins, somewhat surprisingly, with “Loss of Life, Part 2,” which reworks the last title song’s melody to serve as a backing track for a reading of “I Am Taliesin.” A medieval poem called “I Sing Perfect Metre” honors the idea that everything is interrelated. The strange and hallucinogenic beginning of “Loss of Life” effectively conveys the vibe and tone of the record.

The second track on the album, “Mother Nature,” truly sets the mood with its infectious vocal melodies and crisp acoustic guitars, clearly influenced by Oasis. The power ballad “Dancing in Babylon,” a subdued rendition of Jim Steinman’s theme song, carries on the genre exploration by providing drama without resorting to as much bombast.

In other places, David Bowie’s songs “Bubblebum Dog” and “People in the Streets” possess the same catchy quality as two songs from his distinct eras: the former captures his glam phase through intricate solos and baroque harpsichords, while the latter reflects his Eno phase with somber production, fretless bass, and an ambient ending.

You go on a unique trip with each song on Loss of Life, some of which are more unexpected than others. “Nothing to Declare” is a straightforward folk ballad that stays that way for a good portion of its duration until exploding into a flurry of acoustic guitar counterpoints and ticking clocks. And “Nothing Changes,” which was written with a lengthy drive in mind, builds to an electrifying crescendo with horns, booming drums, and beautiful backing vocals. The song is gloomy and slow-burning.

On “Nothing Changes,” MGMT blends comedy and reflection, much like the great, good-humored psychedelic groups before them. The humor helps to break through the inscrutability. The vocalist bemoans, “Nobody calls me the gangster of love,” in the song “I Wish I Was Joking,” which is accompanied by a stellar choir. On the surface, it appears to be a silly, tongue-in-cheek homage to “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band, but upon closer inspection, it’s heartbreaking to consider that VanWyngarden would want to be perceived in that light.

The album’s ending is so extravagant as the concluding title track crescendos into maximalist lunacy that it leaves one wondering if MGMT was actually kidding after all.

Album Theme

MGMT finds stability in unbreakable love and moves into an uncertain future in Loss of Life, instead of lingering in nostalgia.

Production Credits

MGMT, Miles B.A. Robinson & Patrick Wimberly worked on the album’s production.

Tracklist

# Title Duration
1 Loss Of Life (Part 2) 1:59
2 Mother Nature 3:57
3 Dancing In Babylon (feat. Christine and the Queens) 4:53
4 People In The Streets 5:37
5 Bubblegum Dog 4:22
6 Nothing To Declare 3:34
7 Nothing Changes 6:36
8 Phradie’s Song 4:55
9 I Wish I Was Joking 3:47
10 Loss Of Life 5:39

Stream

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