CD Album Reviews

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MGMT – MGMT Album Review

Published August 4, 2014 by gossipzoo


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The beginning of MGMT’s third self-titled studio album starts particularly…strange. Andrew Vanwyngarden’s voice is either replaced or modified by or into what sounds like the voice of a young child. It soon transforms into normal pitch, percussion kicks in, heavy and forceful, followed by soft acoustic guitar strumming and that catchy melody that is ‘Alien Days’. MGMT have returned. And it has been quite the anticipation for anyone who is a fan of this band and genuinely appreciated their sophomore album, ‘Congratulations’, which can be argued as an introduction to what has been unveiled as their “true” sound now running psychologically and above all, musically unrestrained in this new volume of songs.

Many things are heard in this album, from Eastern scales to classic synthesizers to cerebral lyrics. Upon listening to it, one might observe that this band once popular for radio-savvy tunes is making some truly artistic music and on a major label recording company. Surprising, to say the least, considering the ever digressing priorities for major labels. Much more to the point, it’s great to see a blown up band pursuing artistic concepts that most all bands would never do, simply for the sake of keeping their devoted fans. MGMT will always be respected for the devotion not to their fans, but to themselves.

‘Cool Song No. 2 contains the eastern scales mentioned earlier. The melody is quite pretty and is executed with a certain raw quality, making it the album’s juggernaut, second to ‘Alien Days’. The keyboard is brilliantly used in and around the song, as well as the rest of the album, and we hear Ben Goldwasser extending his reach in musical depth, composing some of his best work to date, particularly during the first half of the album.

‘Introspection’ is in itself, introspective, a new quality that hasn’t really been heard by these guys, besides the final track of their second album. ‘A Good Sadness’ also features a certain sound that was foreshadowed in what you hear on the last two minutes of ‘Siberian Breaks’. It’s a very cool sound and it compliments what could be the songs’ notion that the only good sadness is one completely drowned out by technology. ‘Your Life is a Lie’ is an absolute riot, and the most fun you’ll have listening to ‘MGMT’. ‘Plenty of Girls in the Sea’ is the only track that really feels out of place, and although it’s a fun song, it throws the listener off, and because it’s so near the end of the album, the conclusion, ‘An Orphan of Fortune’, the album feels almost as though it ends too abruptly. It’s subtle how the choice in track progression has the ability to affect an entire album.

There are two noticeable differences throughout ‘MGMT’ in contrast to ‘Oracular Spectacular’ and ‘Congratulations’. First, is Vanwyngarden’s lyrics and delivery. Imagine him offering you a red pill or a blue pill before your personal introduction to the band’s music. If you have listened to the first two albums and are now tuning in to this one, consider yourself to have taken the red pill, because he is now showing you how deep the rabbit hole goes. The writing is even more thought-provoking and creative, and if there had to be only one thing to improve upon, it would be the over all construction of the poems. The second noticeable difference is the band’s growth in progressions and subtle textures that truly compliment the ideas being evoked, especially ‘I Love You Too, Death’, one of the albums finest and most quiet moments.

Every song on the record has something unique to offer. Whether it’s the melodies, sounds or lyrics, there is something to appreciate. Unfortunately few songs have all three qualities crafted together to make the album itself as a whole, memorable. There’s plenty of good in this album, it just feels slightly unfulfilled. Still, it’s a highly enjoyable document of a band who blew up suddenly and chose to be themselves afterward.

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Foals – Holy Fire Review

Published April 12, 2013 by gossipzoo

Holy Fire

Release date: Monday 4th February 2013

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost five years since Foals emerged, seemingly fully formed and already exceptionally talented, from the maelstrom of hype and hyperbole that crackled around their debut album Antidotes. The Oxford quintet quickly embraced change and showed considerable evolution on the follow-up, 2010′s exceptional Total Life Forever. It was on this album where they sought to expand the scope of their sound without sacrificing quality, and relieve themselves of the math-rock tag that had plagued them since Bevan, Simon and Philippakis toured as part of cult math-rock band The Edmund Fitzgerald.

One minute into album opener Prelude and it becomes apparent that Foals have yet again broadened the boundaries of their musical spectrum and further expanded the breadth of their vision. It’s an absolute gem of an opener, a slow-burning semi-instrumental (the distorted vocals only begin to emerge from the intricately layered guitar loops and resounding bass near the end of the track) that threatens to reach a euphoric climax before being peeled away to make room for lead single Inhaler. Inhaler‘s spirited grungy guitars merge with the pulsating bass before exploding in a crescendo of distortion come the chorus, whilst Philippakis’ confident vocal growls “Don’t throw your fortune away/ And I can’t get enough space!”

Vocally Philippakis sounds more self-assured than ever, and the fact that his lyrics are less esoteric and vague than on previous outings means it’s easy to pinpoint the key themes of Holy Fire: despair induced from loneliness (Moon‘s “birds fall out of the sky in two by twos”) and the desire for love and companionship (Milk & Black Spiders‘ “I’ve been around two times and found that you’re the only thing I need…”). These themes are embodied to some extent on the album’s artwork, which depicts the silhouetted image of a woman riding her horse out of the sea below a gorgeous yellow sunset.


My Number finds Foals at their most poppy to date, and comes as a refreshing break after the build-up of the opener and the muscle of the lead single. The ferocious energy and intensity of Providence will have you throwing yourself around your living room as a result of its bark and bite, whilst Milk & Black Spiders is the nearest thing to a love-song that Foals have ever written… The opening 100 seconds would not have sounded out-of-place on Radiohead‘s In Rainbows, but the song evolves into a wonderfully refined and layered paean to devotion. Moon is the Spanish Sahara of Holy Fire; the perfect album closer finding Foals again at their most transcendent.

Foals have wrought a gorgeous expansive beauty of an album that not only melds indie-rock with dance (amongst other genres) but that also blurs the fine line between music and art. Thankfully they’ve steered clear of the temptation to embrace formulaic sing-along choruses in an effort to court the large-scale arenas (I’m looking at you Courteeners), in the process staying true to themselves and their vision. That’s not to say that these tracks are not colossal or anthemic, but that the energy and euphoria ebbs and flows in nuanced waves of sound via tempered guitars and the intelligent flourishes provided by the Flood & Moulder production.

It’s not so much a change of direction as it is an affirmation of all the musical elements that ever made Foals great. The verdict? An early contender for the best album of 2013.

Key Tracks:

1. Prelude
2. Inhaler
3. My Number
4. Bad Habit
8. Milk & Black Spiders
9. Providence

Track Listing:

1. Prelude
2. Inhaler
3. My Number
4. Bad Habit
5. Everytime
6. Late Night
7. Out Of The Woods
8. Milk & Black Spiders
9. Providence
10. Stepson
11. Moon

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