Kiefer’s Music Mondays: MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’

MGMT’s classic 2008 debut is an album unlike anything found in the furthest reaches of space.

•o·rac·u·lar
ôˈrakyələr/
adj. (of an utterance, advice, etc.) hard to interpret; enigmatic.
“an ambiguous, oracular remark”

•spec·tac·u·lar
spekˈtakyələr/
noun. an event such as a pageant or musical, produced on a large scale and with striking effects.

Hyper-surreal lyricism, daydream psychedelic pop, strange ethereal synth rock, acid electronica and a series of music videos that could liquify your brain; welcome to the world of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, the sonic transmuting wizard duo better known as MGMT. And boy is it a sight to behold.

The debut LP by MGMT is an album unlike anything found in the furthest reaches of space. For all of its otherworldly nuances, Oracular Spectacular is also deeply interconnected with the natural world in a metaphysical way. It beats and trebles with the pulse of Earth’s libido, pounding with the elements in vividly primal fashion. It’s worldly too, resounding the echoes of metropolitan life, zen gardens, suburban living, distant beaches, backyard forests, arctic volcanoes, jungle waterfalls and tribal villages. It spans space and time like a miraculous gift from another dimension.

The narrative of Oracular begins with the vision of “Time to Pretend,” the lavish dramatic ode to fame, fortune and excessive lifestyles of successful dreamers. This is the jumping off point for an album full of childhood introspections, generational turf wars, social commentary and sentimental allusions. VanWyngarden and Goldwasser have a rare gift for singing absolute nonsense that translates into feeling and intent.

“Weekend Wars” is my personal favorite track on this record; a tale of writers block, broken hearts, ethical dilemma, nostalgic relapses and running away to Arizona reflects a time and place in my life when I discovered myself, this album and the way of the world.

For me, this is an album that captures exactly what it was like to become an adult in 2008. For those of us growing up in the exhaustingly rapid technological growth of the Internet age, music went from playing in a car, into our hand, onto the worldwide web, and onto our phone in the blink of an eye. That constant metamorphosis is also the perfect metaphor for what it was like to become an adult in that era.

Oracular Spectacular defines this feeling musically. For my generation, this is the marching anthem for becoming an adult and beginning the grand adventure of life in an oracular, spectacular time in history.

Listen to: “Weekend Wars,” “Kids,” “Pieces of What”

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