On its third full-length album, the increasingly obscurantist band proves it's no longer your father's
MGMT — though strangely, it may be your grandfather's MGMT. While it's dabbled with psychedelics since 2007 breakthrough "Oracular Spectacular," those other-dimensional meanderings were counterbalanced by immaculate synth-pop. The 10 songs here complete the defiant metamorphoses hinted at on the indifferently received 2010 stopgap "Congratulations." It's now apparent that those left-of-center '60s outsider psych-rock ramblings weren't the aberration; focused pop diamonds like "Electric Feel" were. Occasionally the band's vision pays off here, as on the Syd Barrett-like opener "Alien Days," a midtempo tone-setter of densely layered noise enveloping a would-be hit. "Cool Song No. 2" is a disturbingly sinister jest, a medieval court trickster with a nasty secret. "What you find shocking they find amusing/ something else to soften a sadistic urge," is sung in a telling lyric. "A Good Sadness" and "Mystery Disease" bend and refract guitar and synth leads that might have otherwise served as big club hooks; the effect of the shine is splintered and indirect, but warm all the same. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "A Good Sadness"