Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #87 MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
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#87 MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
This is one of my favorite albums of the decade. The first time I heard the opening chords of "Time to Pretend", it abruptly stopped a spat I was engaged in with my girlfriend - changed our frame from agitated to frolicking in four bars. This is the healing power of MGMT's Oracular Spectacular.
Oracular is rooted in an appreciation for David Bowie's "glam" period - specifically, the Diamond Dogs / Aladdin Sane era with a little The Man Who sold the World thrown in. The album also brings to mind the Flaming Lips, Neil Young, Mercury Rev, Fleetwood Mac (yep), Muse, and numerous other references depending where you drop the needle. Derivative you say? A few chosen artists - like these guys - are able to deftly mash truckloads of influences and churn them out into an emergent new sound.
The album looks forward in time as well, pushing the echoing psychedelic space rock sound to the next level. Every song is a grand, pop rock hit, thematically brushing all the touchstones of the form: fantasy, youth, rebellion, playful abstraction, etc. A lot of reviewers failed to catch the playful part. This album is often done with the tongue in cheek. I mean, "Oracular"? Or look at the lyrics: "Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives. I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars. You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars." Reading the hysterical reactions to this set of lyrics on iTunes, you would think we were reliving the 1950s. (Hmm.) It's hard to understand why so many people fail to detect irony. But I guess drugs references are, like, no laughing matter.