"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 yet...my 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?