mgmtalbum2First, a word on that jacket cover: is this a band selling, or a band for sale? The sign hanging above the pictured consignment shop/hair salon — Stylz Unlimited — suggests a bit of both. And in the foreground, MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser appear open for business, content with mingling among the relics.

On MGMT, the duo does its damnedest to avoid alienating those thrown by 2010’s Congratulations. They still navigate the aisles of 60’s psych and 80’s new wave, but they’ve also refined their production patchwork of bleeps and thuds with a prevailing tightness. And good on the record label for refusing to meddle in this third album’s direction; MGMT was free to experiment, which meant more than a year of self-imposed exile and endless tinkering in a New York cabin with their electronics and their egos.

MGMT might stop short of the fun and the success of the 2007 debut, Oracular Spectacular, but it induces an array of subtle, addictive moments: the cascading child vocals of the opener, “Alien Days;” those crashing piano chords behind the murky percussion of “Cool Song No. 2.” And “Your Life is a Lie,” with its punchy, snare-crack handclaps, is the two-minute upper the album needed to survive the trip. For the first recording of their thirties, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser again live up to what they praise in a line from “I Love You Too, Death”:

“You always leave me wanting more.”

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