MGMT Late Night Tales Review

Compilation. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

An insightful, and rather brilliant, mix from the odd-pop duo.

Ian Wade 2011

Late Night Tales allows Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden to indulge their tastes, and offers perhaps the truest possible representation of the sounds inside the pair’s heads, in case anyone was still thinking Congratulations was a deliberate fan-shedding exercise. So, while they’re currently in the studio coming up with some choruses for album three (the record company have, apparently, "had words" after Congratulations remained nailed to the shelves), they’ve offered up this mixtape type release to give fans a fuller picture of the MGMT experience.

With choices from the some-of-these-people-may-be-on-something area of pop history, there’s the likes of The Chills, Television Personalities and Disco Inferno nestling alongside The Velvet Underground’s Ocean and a cut from Felt’s full-on Cocteau Twins phase, Red Indians. Martin Rev and Suicide crop up with the menace-haemorrhaging Cheree and slightly more upbeat Sparks, while Julian Cope’s Laughing Boy, from his own disowning pop era masterpiece Fried, is a welcome selection. You listen to it and can’t quite imagine that, literally two years beforehand, Duran Duran were claiming The Teardrop Explodes were their only competition. Charlie Feathers’ Mound of Clay sees the rockabilly giant in a mellower frame of mind, while the gorgeously meditative Lord Can You Hear Me? may represent the first time the Late Night Tales series has had to clear a Spacemen 3 track, but it fills the criteria perfectly.

As tradition dictates with Late Night Tales, the curators thrown in an exclusive track from themselves, and here MGMT opt for a cover of Bauhaus’ All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, originally from the dark gents’ The Sky’s Gone Out opus. It’s fair to say that, while it’s actually very lovely, it’s proof that MGMT probably don’t have ‘become pop stars’ noted on their career to-do list. To close there is a short story read by Paul Morley, without one mention of Joy Division.

Exuding the air of a mixtape you might have made for a friend away at university back in 1989, to say thanks for some Pale Saints tickets, while it may be incongruous among the earlier releases and perhaps the reputation that Late Night Tales has built itself on, this is actually a very brilliant package.

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