If you’re to see a Best Of 2008 list dealing with music here at Counterforce, it’d probably come slowly, over several posts, in spurts and and dribbles. The nice thing about this collective of semi-intellectual, semi-tamed miscreants is that we’re all different, with semi-diverging and swerving tastes in music. Yeah, there’s some overlap, maybe a lot of overlap at times (it’s called “good taste in music”), but there’s also a lot of disagreement. And there’s also Benjamin Light.
But if you were to force a mix out of me, songs thrown together from over this past year, then track 1 on that disc, cliche as it may be, would be MGMT’s “Time To Pretend.” Lyrical content-wise, I think the song sums up the year very nicely (my year, at least), both in the form of a beginning and an ending, and some of the wackiness that can fit through the cracks of those bookends. You know band, which is Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, and the song because, by this point, everyone does. It’s been used in TV shows, sometimes very poorly in Gossip Girl‘s case, sometimes brilliantly (more on that in a second), and I’m sure it’s found it’s way into a commercial or two. Or out of your buddies’ car spakers. And you know that asshole at the gym, the sweaty one who always ends up next to you in your spin class? Yeah, you’ve heard it coming out of his ipod headphones. It sounds (and looks) a little like this:
That’s the band on Jools Holland, which is a fine performance, but I wish I could show you the actual music video (if only youtube would allow me), which is…(go watch it!) a kind of a hyper surrealistic party paradise with chic tribal hobos who may as well be hunting down wooly mammoths through the ruins of NYC, right? But lyrically, I feel that the song just says something accurate about the world we live in these days, describing the zeitgeist of the apocalyptic metanoia.
I first heard the song back in February or March-ish while watching the series finale of Skins on youtube. If you’ve ever followed me on the Counterforce tumblr, stumbled into a IRL conversation with me, or just happen to have BBC America and nice bit of interest, then you’ve heard of this show. To put it as simply as I can, it’s like those American teen shows, your Dawson’s Creeks, your Gossip Girls, your OCs, but better and trashier. Glow in the dark trashy, matter of fact. And with a bizarre slice of satire thinly sliced through a nice, almost art school sensibility. And the music is usually fantastic, the kind that’s not always just there because it’s new and hip and popular, but used because it’s… well, so well used that it becomes integral to a scene. I’ve read that when they release the first series of the show in America in January, they’ll have to replace some of the music because of rights issues and that scares the shit out of me.
Now, while I had heard of MGMT (I know that they only kinda sorta belong in a 2008 list since their physical album was released this year, but the digital release was October of last year) before, especially when they were previously known as The Management, my first real experience with them was a scene in the series finale of Skins. It was the last scene, matter of fact. And they were perfect, integral to not just that scene, but almost the entire show being summed up there, in fact. I don’t want to say too much about it for fear of ruining the scene, especially as it is perfect summary of a show, but the gist involves a nerdy British kid wandering around the neon spectacle and lusty foreign allure of the filthy streets of NYC, the music blaring on the soundtrack, as he looks for something he recognizes and someone he loves. He’s looking to save someone and be saved, closure and a rebirth. The end and the beginning.
The song grabbed me right then and there and never really let me go. It held me through even the hipsters and culture fucking douchebags latching onto the song and dry humping it in their indie rock dance clubs and their repeats of Grey’s Anatomy. It still has me. The album by MGMT, Oracular Spectacular, is fun all the way through, something that I feel Pitchfork describes accurately when it mentions that they’re akin to Mew and Muse in a brotherhood of melody filtered through a prog rock feel, but, as Wikipedia tells us, weaving in an early 90s Britpop sound. “Sounds like a college-dorm room experiment gone horribly right,” Prefix Magazine tells us.
Sure, over the past year, “Time To Pretend” has had it’s hills and valleys of frequency in which it appeared in the psychedelic jukebox of my head (that would totally be the title of this if I was writing this for This Recording), but it was always present in some form, sometimes waiting in the wings of a playlist, both upbeat and very downbeat. And when it wasn’t there, another of their songs, “Kids,” certainly was:
That video, while not being officially tied to the band at all, is awesome in my book. And if you don’t like it then I will fight you to the death. I could probably say the same about the band, their music, all of it.
“The Apocalypse is in the zeitgeist… but it doesn’t have to be about death and destruction; it can be the shattering of a mass hallucination… where the human race realizes its true potential!” -Andrew VanWyngarden in Spin Magazine. Uh… sure.