Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Kids" / MGMT

I've been in a dreadful musical funk lately; somehow all I feel like doing is curling up in a fetal position and listening to the same few Kinks and Beatles songs over and over. (That and Al Kooper's I Stand Alone album -- go figure.)

But today, while on a long car trip in the rain, this number broke through all the dreck on Sirius/XM's Alt Nation channel. Or, at any rate, its mesmerizing electronic dance hook did -- I love how it marches up the scale, tripping into the tiniest bit of syncopation at the end; it's a total ear worm.

Though it's only been around for few months, this song already has a complicated history. NME named it the best single of 2008, and the band is suing the president of France for ripping it off for some campaign appearances. I gather there are several covers of it already, though, jeez, I can't imagine it without this exact same arrangement.

Naturally, the meaning of the song is foggy -- clarity and storytelling are verboten in the indie world. It does flirt with developmental psychology, addressing a growing child "Crawling on your knees toward it / Making momma so proud." Wikipedia tells me the song was written about Mother Love Bone's late front man, Andrew Wood -- hello, WHO? I have no idea who that is, so that really doesn't help me much.

Still, the loose-limbed groove of this song can't be denied. It's perky, and at the same time stiff and robotic; it's also strangely melancholy, as those repeated musical phrases strain toward the same high notes again and again. "Control yourself," the chorus warns; "Take only what you need from it / A family of trees wanted / To be haunted" (nice internal rhyme there, and nice play on the family tree image).

So who are MGMT? They're a duo from Brooklyn, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, with all the right indie connections (opening for Of Montreal and Radiohead, appearances at SXSW, Bonnaroo, and Glastonbury festivals, etc). I've listened to the rest of this album, Oracular Spectacular, and there's plenty of other diggable songs there as well.

And yet, and interest is already fading fast. The idea of discovering a new band, let alone one this young and trendy, wears me out totally. (Blame it on the funk.) Will this process of discovering new bands never end? Can't I just, you know, listen for the millionth time to Muswell Hillbillies and Revolver?


Kids video


Betty C. said...

Interesting -- you're sounding a bit like The Village Green Preservation Society!

I think a lot about being in cooking ruts but not so much musical ones. I guess my long hiatus from listening to much of MY music makes me feel like it will take me forever to rediscover everything I haven't been listening to for the millionth time...

I'm not sure what your definition of "new" is (mine is anything predominantly 21st century) but I have been enjoying the White Stripes lately. As far as "cutting-edge" new, I think I may have given up there, though.

Uncle E said...

Musical ruts are like the real estate market, that is they're cyclical. But I can sure think of some worse ruts to be stuck in than the Beatles and Kinks!
The MGMT album has stuck with me, I think these guys'll be around for awhile, but who knows? I'm currently in a new music rut (well, new to me anyway), with The SUper Furry Animals new one, the new Pet Shop Boys, etc. BUT the jewel I just received is Nick's entire back catalogue, including his Brinsley stuff. In the words of McDonald's advertising agency, "I'm Lovin' It!".