The Best Songs of 2010: #7: “Flash Delirium” by MGMT

23 Dec

The story of MGMT is interesting. “Kids” is perhaps their best known piece and it is a six-minute synthpop classic with small elements of psychedelia. MGMT’s brand of synth music in this song does come dangerously close to modern psychedelic music, but it falls short and therefore I cannot consider the 2008 song a psychedelic piece. Two years later, though, MGMT released Congratulations (April, 2010) and the first single from the album was nothing like “Kids.” Instead it delved deeper in the psychedelic sound that, according to lead men Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, was what they wanted to do with this album. It is the #7 song on our countdown.

I mention this because MGMT to me was simply another band exploring synthpop which has gained a strong listening base as a sub-mainstream genre. While “Kids” was catchy, I gave it one quick listen to affirm my theory and then went on to better pieces of music. But, “Flash Delirium” is different. I will tell you why below.

Song: “Flash Delirium”

Band: MGMT

“Flash Delirium” is no where close to “Kids.” One can spot the differences right away. “Kids” depends solely on a hook to provide the song’s structure and meaning. Without that one infectious part, there is no “Kids.” Contrastingly, “Flash Delirium” has no initial hook. The song begins with a drum-driven verse that erupts into this temporary rock insanity and then falls back into the verse that adds a synth into the background. But, the synth is not the short and catch “Kids” synth. It is deeper. The noise hangs on like a lingering smell.

Then the pre-chorus hits you with a wall of sound that just comes out of nowhere. Suddenly you are being hit by an orchestral sound before the chorus (or what seems like the chorus) hits you with this Bowie-like “Ashes to Ashes” segment. Then a sing-a-long and a flute. You stop and think to yourself, what the hell is going on? And that is when I first realized that this is a good piece of psychedelic music. It makes you question normal music conventions. Hence why I am hesitant calling the chorus a chorus. The song’s structure is lacking. It falls into a void that lacks gravity. All sound is floating and hitting you at random times. And that is only after two minutes.

Then all hell breaks loose. More sounds are added and the song turns to a rock base with vocal repetition. The end of the song is an eruption. There is anger and then animal noises. You are left bemused and intrigued.

That is what happens with the video as well. I wanted to give you my song analysis before I posted the video. The video is genius. It is confusing, wacky, disoriented, sardonic and even possibly satiric. Basically, one of our main characters (who seem to be coming back from war) is hiding a hole in his throat, which he reveals after the flute (it’s like snake charming). There is something inside of his opening that sings and is then pulled out and inserted into this machine in an odd libidinous ceremony. The family in the video consists of hippies and war-mongers and crazy looking old ladies. The end of the video (which correlates with the volcano of sound at the end) is a string of psychedelic images that “mind rape” you. Animal noises coincide with darkness. Something really bad just happened. The listener/viewer is left shaking their head. Boy is that a good song! But it is unconventional. Hence why it has not received a lot of attention (besides top 10 lists). This is not close to “Kids.” This one is for the adults.



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