[13] MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’

MGMT

Giggling schoolkids Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser make hay with the rock’n’roll lifecycle, snaring “models for wives” and choking on their “vomit – that will be the end”, and set it all to perennially pleasing power-pop. I’m not sure they’re far enough out of the game to take the piss – just look at their garb – but it’s handled with wit and a winning sense of cod-heroism. In the end, ‘Time To Pretend’ is uplifting, chords building to some sort of triumph, and living fast and dying young almost sounds like something to aspire to. And that makes us as silly as their targets.

Junior says: “I like this one,” pointing at VanWyngarden. The song gets the thumbs-up too, especially the chirrupy synth signature bookending the fun.

Best bit: “… digging up worms – BA-BOOM”. Such meatiness places it firmly in rock fan territory, however much they protest. Perhaps that’s the point – having the cake and eating it. That’s MGMT’s thing. On the new album, they play fast and loose again, simultaneously ribbing and paying homage to the sound cathedrals of Brian Eno. Speaking of whom…

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Empire Of The Sun, ‘We Are The People’

Empire Of The Sun

By any reasonable standard, it’s a bit early for a “new MGMT”. Actually, I think it’ll always be a bit early for a new one, best single of 2008 notwithstanding. On the face of it, Empire of The Sun are more pleasingly uncluttered and electronic – a little cleaner, a touch poppier – but obviously they look equally ridiculous. Credit where it’s due, Empire’s Luke Steele looked pretty ludicrous in The Sleepy Jackson too, so he’s no mere copycat. He and his PR people have just grabbed the main chance.

I dunno, though – this doesn’t amount to much. It’s catchy, but I can’t help slipping into Starship’s ‘We Built This City’ every time I try to sing along. Is that a bad thing? That might not be a bad thing. Junior sings the last word of every line, like some sort of MGMT-copying-Empire-Of-The-Sun-copycat. I think that’s satire.

Tangling the web further, she saw Flight Of The Conchords gently putting the boot into EOTS (or was it MGMT?) yesterday and said, “I saw this before.”

Are you gonna leave me now?

[1] MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’

MGMT

Like LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ last year, this is so far ahead of the pack it isn’t funny. Except it is. Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser dream of their rock’n’roll future to come, and it’s all drugs and supermodels – are they as knee-deep in them now as they anticipated? Hell, probably.

‘Time To Pretend’ has an irresistible, kinetic energy. It’s a rolling stone, but it gathers moss, drums (the drums, the drums), synths, pure glee and giddy excitement. I suppose it has an ‘80s bent in its shiny, pumped-up production yet the excess is unfiltered ‘70s. They look like a pair of prog/hippie casualties to boot. The second half is one long spine-tingle and the hanging chords of the final bridge/chorus sound almost heroic – assuming there’s heroism in “The models will have children/We’ll get a divorce/Find some more models/Everything must run its course”. Naturally there is.

The album Oracular Spectacular is a bit Blue Oyster Cult for me; let’s just revel in a perfect single’s anticipation of living fast and dying young. The album prize can go to Vampire Weekend, with honours to TV On The Radio, Lykke Li and Coldplay (yes, Coldplay – I couldn’t believe it either).

As for Junior, she’s loved this from the moment she first heard the chirupping bleeps of the intro. Today she dances, rolls around the floor and bounds about in front of her sister – and her sister’s clapping. Bravo.

2008 Top 20 Singles?

Halfway through the year, always looking for delaying tactics and ways to ramp up the tension for the year-end countdown, here’s a minor indicator – the Top 20 Most Played 2008 Singles on my iPod thingy.

[1] Martha Wainwright, ‘Bleeding All Over You’
[2] The Ting Tings, ‘Great DJ’
[3] Laura Marling, ‘Ghosts’
[4] Alphabeat, ‘Fascination’
[5] Fleet Foxes, ‘White Winter Hymnal’
[6] Coldplay, ‘Violet Hill’
[7] The Ting Tings, ‘That’s Not My Name’
[8] Death Cab For Cutie, ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’
[9] MGMT, ‘Time To Pretend’
[10] Lykke Li, ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’
[11] Coldplay, ‘Viva La Vida’
[12] Santogold, ‘L.E.S. Artistes’
[13] Portishead, ‘Machine Gun’
[14] Vampire Weekend, ‘Oxford Comma’
[15] Laura Marling, ‘Cross Your Fingers’/’Crawled Out Of The Sea’
[16] Hercules And Love Affair, ‘Blind’
[17] The Shortwave Set, ‘No Social’
[18] Goldfrapp, ‘A&E’
[19] H ‘two’ O featuring Platnum, ‘What’s It Gonna Be’
[20] Foals, ‘Red Socks Pugie’

Admit it. You’re astonished.