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MGMT’s Fifth Album “Loss of Life” is Psychedelic Dive Into Love, Loss, and Rebirth

By Maryjane Perez | 03 April 2024

Via @whoismgmt on Instagram

MGMT, an alternative rock duo consisting of members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, released their fifth album Loss of Life on February 23rd. It is a delicate surrender to the cycles of love, loss, and rebirth we experience throughout our lifetime. These ten tracks invite listeners to explore the intimate and mundane experiences of life, offering spacey instrumentals, eerie vocals, and reflective lyrics. 

The album’s opening track “Loss of Life, Pt. 2" features psychedelic instrumentals and is pure dialogue, a similar sound to the likes of Prince and David Bowie. There is a seamless transition into the next track, “Mother Nature,” which is a guitar heavy observation about life and finding understanding in our humanity. “And think maybe the children just want recognition / I wrote the fairytale on a midnight drive / Wanting to know if I’m more than alive.” 

The tempo picks up a bit with the third track “Dancing In Babylon (feat. Christine and the Queens)". There is a steady buildup of electric synths and drums that create a euphoric feeling which pairs perfectly with the song’s depiction of experiencing newfound love. “Saw you move to the beat / And I was blown away / That’s all you need to know.” 

“People In The Streets” maintains a similar sound instrumentally, but has a more haunting undertone, with lyrics that unravel the negative and painful side to life. “Bubblegum Dog” is full of guitar strums and sounds that appear to be mimicking a dog’s howling. This song takes on a more playful rock sound than the previous tracks, breaking away from the uncanny feelings evoked by the first few songs. 

The next track, “Nothing To Declare,” is reminiscent of the sound of The Beatles. It takes on a more wistful approach sonically than the first half of the album. Though this is not a standout track, it is a nice add-on. Melancholic lyrics such as “The waters beckon me to dive / I can tell the pearl’s in there / And still, there's nothing I can find,” mixed with airy synths and acoustic guitar strums, allow for a contemplative listening experience. 

“Nothing Changes'' is an absolute power ballad. It starts off with acoustic guitar and drums, then transforms into a powerful explosion of harmonies, synths, and horns. It’s a broody exploration of feeling stuck in despair. VanWyngarden reiterates the statement that nothing ever changes and will never change. Despite this seemingly pessimistic outlook, the song offers a feeling that the opposite might be true. Everything changes, we are just not always aware of it. 

“Phradie’s Song” presents listeners with whimsical chimes and wispy vocals. It spirals into an enchanting and dreamlike trance. “I Wish I Was Joking” continues with the slower paced tempo. True to the title, the song is full of admittances that one would wish they were saying in a joking manner. “Half the time I feel sad / And any kind of love will do” are lyrics that stood out and made me reflect on how it is a common experience to fill sadness with anything that might serve as a distraction or temporary fix. 

The album closes with “Loss of Life.” It is a bittersweet and tender commentary on accepting the loss that is encountered in life and finding love and rebirth from within that loss. “Who knows how the painting will look in the morning” and “Cause it’s only a different kind of gain / Even if your color fades away” encapsulates the experience of learning to grow alongside loss and change. 

Overall, Loss of Life is a beautifully narrated album that explores some deeper themes while also still allowing for an enjoyable listening experience. It may be difficult to digest this album in its entirety in one sitting, due to all of its layers and overall slower pace. I found that I had to listen in bits over a few days to fully appreciate and take in each song, and would recommend doing the same. It is a great listen for anyone who has a preference for psychedelic pop/rock.


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