MGMT’s ‘Loss of Life’ is a nostalgic return full of hope and heart

“Loss of Life” by MGMT (Mom+Pop)

They say trends make a cyclical comeback every 20 years.

MGMT, an American rock band formed by singers Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser in 2002, is perhaps best known for its indie sleaze anthems like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend.” The duo’s carefree lyrics and electrifying synth instrumentals fueled an era that was all about fun and freedom — and questionable fashion choices like fedoras and fur coats.

Their newest work, “Loss of Life” isn’t quite a return reminiscent of those times, but MGMT has gone through a few different phases since then, such as gothic fourth album “Little Dark Age.” Their fifth studio album certainly has a nostalgic feel to it, but there’s also something new: a tenderness and hopefulness that listeners might not expect from a title like “Loss of Life” or a band with a history of unseriousness.

It’s crazy what adding a little bit of acoustic guitar to synth-pop can do.

And VanWyngarden and Goldwasser experiment with more than just guitar in “Loss of Life.” The track “Dancing in Babylon,” including the vocal talent of Christine and the Queens, is the first-ever feature on an MGMT album, and the first song samples a reading of an anonymous poem titled “I Am Taliesin. I Sing Perfect Metre.”

Heartstring-tugging lyrics about love juxtapose themes of loss throughout the album, such as in “Phradie’s Song,” which has lines like “And every time the tears begin/The morning sun is there in your hands.”

Album namesake “Loss of Life” is an eerie, electronic-backed soul-searcher. It’s the shining star and grand finale, solving the mystery behind the hopeful tone of the album. A gorgeous instrumental interlude featuring triumphant trumpet blares and plucking strings builds up to the answer in the last four lines:

“When the world is born and life is ending/Then you learn to love your loss of life/When that moment comes and life is over/Anyone can love.” KIANA DOYLE, MDT/AP

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