Alexis Petridis’s “Loss of Life” album has been reviewed as the album of the week by MGMT.

Estimated read time 5 min read


In 2021, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue released a report on extremist behavior on TikTok. The report was disheartening to read and contained moments of disbelief. One surprising finding was the popularity among neo-Nazis of the title track from MGMT’s fourth album, Little Dark Age, released in 2018. It was noted as the most frequently used sound by extremist creators on TikTok and was often used in videos featuring the late American white supremacist George Lincoln Rockwell and “esoteric nazism”. The authors of the report were puzzled as to why this particular song was favored. It is evident that the neo-Nazis who adopted this track do not have a strong grasp of the English language. The lyrics of Little Dark Age clearly criticize America during the Trump era and denounce racist police brutality. Interestingly, they also seem to foreshadow the Black Lives Matter protests with lines like “Just know that if you hide, it doesn’t go away” and “get out of bed … bring a stone, all the rage”.

Cover art for Loss of Life.

The image can be viewed in fullscreen.

It is true that the unexpected popularity of the song was likely due to its rise on TikTok. Despite not charting and being from an album that only reached the US Top 40, Little Dark Age became widely used on the video platform during the pandemic. It remains popular, being used for everything from girls dancing in cat ears to footage of the conflict in Ukraine. Even videos complaining about the song’s overuse on TikTok use it as background music. With over 5.5 million videos on TikTok and almost 600 million streams on Spotify, MGMT’s fame is now higher than it has been since their debut album Oracular Spectacular gained both critical acclaim and mainstream success, selling over a million copies.

Listening to Loss of Life, a band who once seemed intent on alienating the fans who had bought their debut album have seized the opportunity presented to them by the whole TikTok thing. It’s just as tuneful as the Little Dark Age album, and they’re now a world away from 2010’s Congratulations or 2013’s dense, claustrophobic MGMT. While Congratulations was an album under the influence of Television Personalities and the Cleaners from Venus’ brand of lo-fi early 80s psychedelia – seldom a foolproof recipe for mass appeal – chunks of Loss of Life deal in precisely the kind of widescreen glossy pop that Television Personalities and the Cleaners from Venus were reacting against, albeit viewed through a distorting lens.

The song “Dancing in Babylon” by Christine and the Queens has a nostalgic 80s feel to it, but with a modern twist. The use of keyboards that are slightly out of tune and a crackling noise give the song a unique sound. The lyrics on “People in the Streets” touch on themes of rebellion and fear, reminiscent of their previous album “Little Dark Age”. On “Mother Nature”, the duo have acknowledged the influence of Oasis, but it is only briefly heard in the beginning before the song takes a different direction with distorted guitars and layers of synth, some of which use a tremolo effect popularized by Spacemen 3.

In fact, Loss of Life covers a surprising amount of musical ground in 45 minutes: everything from Ziggy-era Bowie on Bubblegum Dog to Nothing to Declare’s flirtation with Simon and Garfunkel-esque folk. You get the reference points, but it never sounds like explicit homage, partly because everything gets fed through MGMT’s psychedelic filter – thickly smeared with edge of chaos electronics and sudden, disorientating explosions of echo – and partly because the songs beneath the arrangements are sturdy enough to support the teeming arrangements and stand apart from their influences. Phradie’s Song might possess the sweetest melody MGMT have written to date, its feather-soft, chanson-inspired tune butting against the dramatic swell of its synth coda; I Wish I Was Joking glides gracefully along, spiked with funny lines: “Nobody calls me the gangster of love,” it protests, a self-deprecating retort to the smug boasts of Steve Miller’s old hit The Joker.

It may be overstated how easily digestible the album Loss of Life is. The album begins with a recitation of a 13th-century Welsh poem and ends with the title track melting into a prolonged chaos. However, it successfully balances eccentricity and pop in a way that surpasses any MGMT album since their debut. It is uncertain if it will capitalize on their unexpected TikTok fame, as such success often does not go beyond the viral track. Additionally, it is unclear how the band will respond if it does succeed, as they seemed unimpressed by the celebrity status granted to them by Oracular Spectacular. Nevertheless, while we wait and see, Loss of Life is a delightful experience to fully immerse oneself in.

music from the

This week, Alexis enjoyed listening to songs from the

The artist Brittany Howard’s song is titled “Prove It to You.”

Howard’s most recent individual record, What Now, appears to have been disregarded. This is a mistake, as evidenced by Prove It to You, where her vocals are unexpectedly paired with upbeat disco-house music.


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