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A Sound Reborn

MGMT’s Loss of Life Album Review

By: Jeffrey Carmichael


Credit: MGMT 


Only two years after the release of their last album, MGMT released their seventh studio album entitled Loss of Life. Upon one’s initial listen, they would never guess that there was such a short period of downtime between these two projects with the musical complexity and genius production that is Loss of Life. This collection of tracks differs greatly in sound from their previous works. While MGMT is known for their ability to weave psychedelic soundscapes with a heavy use of electronic elements, this album incorporates a far heavier use of acoustic sounds than we have ever seen from the duo. Many of the tracks feature an acoustic guitar as their central sound and use the typical electronic elements as accents to these beautifully crafted acoustic riffs and elegant vocal melodies. As the songs progress, the more psychedelic aspects of the song slowly weave in and out of the track until they eventually take over and give much more of that conventional MGMT sound. The production on the project is done masterfully and they have created a piece of work that takes the sound they are known for in a completely new direction.

While the sonic direction of the album is incredible, the thematic framing is nearly perfect. The music and the message interact in such a beautiful way and give the listener so much substance to bite into and enjoy. Loss of Life uses this overarching theme of reincarnation to explore the cycle of trying to live when one is afraid to love. 

One immediately sees this fear of love explored on the album’s second track, “Mother Nature”; it explores what it means to fear letting someone into your heart, to let them know the truth of your soul. This theme is explored further on the duet track “Dancing in Babylon” with this dichotomy of wanting to love everyone, but simultaneously running from everyone who loves you. This idea of running presents itself in the album’s latter half with “Nothing to Declare”, which is about wanting to explore the world freely with no baggage. This innate fear of love and craving of freedom leads to this deep sense of isolation that is explored in the song “People in the Streets”, where the narrator announces just how afraid of people they are and how much they struggle to connect with them.

Credit: NPR 


This dichotomy, this vicious cycle that controls the narrator’s life, is represented by this idea of reincarnation. The song uses a Welsh poem from the Book of Taliesin, that explores this idea of having been a variety of creatures and repeatedly experiencing birth and death. Birth and death represent these highs and lows in the cycle of the avoidant love they so obviously suffer from. The track “Nothing Changes” explores this idea of repetition more directly. The title itself is about how nothing in their life is changing. They are pushing the same rock up the same hill everyday, only for it to roll back down. They are trying and failing to love to no avail, but they refuse to stop.

This refusal to stop is explored in a few of the album’s tracks. “Phradie’s song” is this hauntingly beautiful lullaby that speaks about learning to finally love after living a life where one was convinced that they couldn’t because of the birth of their child. The narrator is finally questioning the intensity at which they attached themselves to this idea that they couldn’t love. In the album’s ending track, “Loss of Life”, this is explored further. The song states that nothing can prepare you for death, but that death acts as a vehicle for one to finally accept that anyone can love. 

Overall, this album is phenomenal. On many people’s first listen, they might not enjoy it. On mine, I wasn’t that impressed, but on my second listen, the intricacies of the tracks and the album’s message truly resonated with and impressed me. The production is absolutely incredible and each song has such diverse and ever evolving elements in the background. My main critique of the project is that many of the songs tend to blend together somewhat sonically. Many of the tracks follow this formula where the first half is far simpler than its latter half, but with such a heavy focus on acoustic sounds, this means that many of the songs blend together. However, I think the more the album sits with you, the more its intricacies tend to bleed and become noticeable. This is a project that will continue to grow on me and one of my favorite listens in 2024. 


Jeff loves everything music; from System of a Down to Tame Impala to Aphex Twin, he’s listened to and enjoyed it all. In his free time, he apparently likes to party with sirens?


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