record Reviews


MGMT

Album: “Little Dark Age”

Grade: A-

If MGMT’s first album in four years gets really trippy, there’s a good reason. One song was apparently created during a real acid trip.

If that’s what it takes to get the creative juices flowing for bandmates Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, we’re fine with it. MGMT have once more delivered an off-kilter, challenging and very addictive album with “Little Dark Age.”

The 10-track collection veers from cheeky (“She Works Out Too Much”) to pitch-black (”When You Die”). There a general sense of unease in the lyrics, both socially and technologically, and the cover seems to riff off Edvard Munch’s unnerving “The Scream.”

The title track is the most likely to get mainstream traction, with its heavy synth waves that have a Kraftwerk feel.

Other songs include “James,” a blissed-out tune with French horn and plink-plink piano, “One Thing Left to Try,” an ’80s throwback with tons of pop synth, and “Days That Got Away,” which sounds like stumbling into a nightclub run by robots under the influence of MDMA.

Perfect for an album in 2018, VanWyngarden explores tech addiction. “I’m constantly swiping and tapping/ it’s never relaxing,” he sings in the opening song. Another standout track is “TSLAMP,” which stands for Time Spent Looking at My Phone: “I’m wondering where the hours went,” he admits.

—Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

John Oates

Album: “Arkansas”

Grade: B

The less celebrated half of the pop duo Hall & Oates has tapped into a rich vein of American roots music on his latest offering, an album that demonstrates his seriousness about the music-making craft.

No, “Arkansas” probably won’t let John Oates live down a legacy in which the mere mention of a song title can leave its melody rattling around your head for hours. The duo, during its heyday, combined a string of catchy-to-cloying singles (“Private Eyes”) with soulful ballads that held up better over time (”Sara Smile”).

But Oates, a Philadelphia native, has lately been exploring earthier sounds in and around Nashville. His search led him to “Arkansas,” a project that began as a tribute to Mississippi John Hurt and evolved into a deeper exploration of traditional themes.

Oates describes the result as “Dixieland dipped in bluegrass and salted with Delta blues.”

—Scott Stroud, Associated Press

David Duchovny

Album: “Every Third Thought”

Grade: C-

In an upcoming episode of “The X-Files,” Fox Mulder gets mixed up with some paranormal forces and somehow believes he’s a rock ‘n’ roll god. No, wait. That’s not a TV show. It’s apparently real life for David Duchovny.

Duchovny ditches his day job chasing aliens on television to release his 12-track sophomore effort, “Every Third Thought,” an album of pretty good rock songs marred by perhaps the worst vocal performances ever captured digitally. Duchovny has a horrifically thin voice, unable to modulate, unable to show any emotion, unable to hold a note. It doesn’t go up or down.

—Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

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