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MGMT – Edinburgh Liquid Rooms

Artifice – ar·ti·fice – noun
1.a clever trick or stratagem; a cunning, crafty device or expedient; wile.

MGMT on record are an interesting hotchpotch of different music styles, a rich of fusion of sounds and ideas. As they emerge, the suspicion that they are still playing at the rock star thing rather than living it lingers; the keyboard players is dressed as a tribute to Boy George, Wedding Singer-style, the bassist looks like Dr. Teeth, the singer has a 70’s style headband and the bassist drew the short straw and has to wear the Hair Bear bunch perm. It’s almost as if they got together and drew lots as to which 70’s cliché they should play. As they launch into ‘Electric Feel’ they resemble nothing so much as the fictional band ‘Stone The Crows’ from ‘Almost Famous’.

The gig, in keeping with MGMT up till now, is a curious mix. When they are good, they are very, very good. ‘Electric Feel’ is fantastic, slinky and sexy, causing the sell-out crowd to get sweatier. ‘The Handshake’ is a stomping, yelping beast of a song live, all sinewy elegance and crunching guitars. When they are bad, however….well, they really are. Too many songs sound like tossed-off Bowie tributes. A ten-minute cosmic jam set-closer is interminable. Indeed, MGMT’s biggest problem at this point in their career is that they don’t know who they are yet, and sometimes are too busy taking time to pretend that they are their idols than simply being themselves.

But, and it is a big but, when they get it right, they really do. There hasn’t been a better song released this year than ‘Time to pretend’ and I’m not sure there will be. Set closer ‘Kids’ is fantastic, a twisted Disney song bounced along by a twinkly electric beat. Even at that, the band try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by launching into a ‘spontaneous’ three-keyboard widdle before leaving the stage. Less is more, lads.

Overall, an interesting gig by an interesting band. Lots and lots of potential here, but not the finished article yet. And, if I can be so bold, I strongly suggest that their record company employs a stylist.


4 Responses

  1. Quite surprised you rate ‘Time to Pretend’ so highly. The nasty I would deem it ‘Money for Nothing’ for the appalling Bebo-Emo generation! A more objective term would be ‘meh’! What am I missing?

    A bit more inclined to see where you are coming from on ‘Kids’ or the partially-psychedelic ‘The Handshake’. However, there are a half dozen small-time bands on the Irish scene alone who could do as well.

    On the whole, not terribly bothered by this band right now. Can see some promise in their vocal style though, if they can break free of a plodding overall sound and lyrics like those on ‘Electric Feel’. For example, perhaps they could try building more on what they achieve with ‘4th Dimensional Transition’?

  2. I think it’s warm and colourful and climactic LO! I do think there is a good band in there, they just need to be a bit less scattergun.

  3. Ok, but possibly the BEST song of the year for you? May need to parachute you in some new music!! 😀

  4. I said best, not favourite 🙂

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