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See MGMT Play ‘Alien’ New Song, Cover OMD Live in Bogota

Fan footage offers glimpse of song that could appear on the band's upcoming third album, plus an intriguing cover

picture-18576-1373300776Marc Hogan // April 2, 2012

MGMT’s first album, Oracular Spectacular, was effervescent electro-pop, party rock anthems before party rocking required an apology. Their second, Congratulations, prankingly left-turned into druggy psych-rock esoteria. Palates now cleansed, what we can hear of the first song to emerge since suggests MGMT’s third album might split the distance between those two previous extremes.

NME points to a fan video of the Connecticut-bred band played a new song on Friday night during the Festival Estereo Picnic in Bogotá, Colombia. “It has acoustic guitar,” bedheaded frontman Andrew VanWyngarden says by way of introduction to the song, which he calls “Alien Days” (or “Alien Daze” — pesky homophones!). “Sorry about this anticlimax.”

Bummer-inducingly, the recording does turn out to be a bit of an anticlimax, just because the fan’s humble iPhone or whatever evidently can’t handle MGMT’s low-end. Still, what’s decipherable is reason enough to get excited: a twinkly, zonked-out psych-pop reverie, with glinting harmonies, a wisp of a lead vocal that gets lost down some Syd Barrett rabbit hole, and whirling, circus-ready instrumentation. From the distortion-prone clip, it’s unclear whether we’re closer to the shiny happy spaced oddity of the Flaming Lips’ circa soon-to-be-musical Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, or the life-on-Mars folk ambience of MGMT pal Atlas Sound’s Parallax. Either would be fine company to join.

But that’s not all. As a commenter on points out, MGMT played at least two other unfamiliar songs during their set. The first one has yet to be identified, but the second, which comes at the 33:50 mark in this regrettably low-quality audience video of the band’s entire Colombia set, is definitely a cover of British synth-pop groundbreakers Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s krautrock-indebted 1979 single “Electricity.” Fittingly, it leads into fist-pumping Oracular Spectacular smash “Electric Feel.”

In any event, a new MGMT album is in the works and is expected to be self-titled. The NME quotes a paywall-blocked interview in Intercourse Magazine, where VanWyngarden reportedly acknowledged having written five songs for the album, which MGMT has been recording with producer David Fridmann at his Tarbox Road Studios in Cassadaga, Florida. Columbia Records’ U.S. chairman and CEO Rob Stringer, in a no-longer-online interview with The Music Network, was quoted as saying MGMT’s album is intended for a September release.