Released February 9, 2018 via Columbia Records
Reviewed February 28, 2023
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Little Dark Age (84%), When You Die (65%), Me and Michael (49%)
Since their 2007 debut, Oracular Spectacular, MGMT have always been on the cutting edge of indie pop and neo-psychedelia. The duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser saw a decent amount of success in their early years, most notably with the single “Kids.” But with the increasingly psychedelic and experimental sounds of the records that followed, Congratulations (2010) & MGMT (2013), it’s clear these two were much more focused on expanding their range and executing a vision more than chasing success.
That message still rings true on their fourth album, Little Dark Age, but this time takes the shape of sounds similar to those found on their debut. Little Dark Age has that psychedelic slant to it that we had come to expect from MGMT, but it’s undeniably the most pop-oriented album of theirs since Oracular Spectacular.
The synth-driven melodies of Little Dark Age range from bouncy and colorful (“She Works Out Too Much”) to dreamy and atmospheric (“Hand It Over”). As the title indicates, it’s just a *little* dark. The album’s lyrics and vocal performances find themselves in a similar spot; slightly subdued but very catchy hooks come alongside dark undertones and subject matter ranging from mental illness and suicidal thoughts to straightforward political commentary. Take the title track for example; with clear influence from 1980s synthpop and darkwave, a thick layer of bass rides under a repetitive synth sequence as VanWyngarden details a losing battle with depression and the subsequent deterioration of one’s sense of self. It’s grim but endearing, it induces anxiety but simultaneously provides a sense of comfort and warmth—all key characteristics of what form Little Dark Age.
Little Dark Age might not be the most ambitious record in MGMT’s catalog, but it might stack up as the most concise. Clocking in at just over 44 minutes across 10 tracks—comparable to their previous albums—there’s a level of cohesiveness that stacks up to anything the duo has yet to release. – Dominick (8.5/10)
Dominick: 8.5/10 | Ben: 8/10 Cam: 8/10 | DeVán: 8/10 | Jared: 8/10
Pax: 8/10 | Peter: 8/10 | Alan: 7.5/10
Little Dark Age brings me to a different world whenever I listen to it. Its fun lyrics and catchy beats make it an unforgettable experience. -- @when_the_wendi (9/10)