MGMT on experimental journey

Andrew Well Vanwyngarden of MGMT (left) performing on the final night of Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois. John Smierciak/AP/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MUSIC MGMT. UK REGIONAL PAPERS AND MAGAZINES, PLEASE REMOVE FROM ALL COMPUTERS AND ARCHIVES BY 29/08/2013.

Andrew Well Vanwyngarden of MGMT (left) performing on the final night of Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois. John Smierciak/AP/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MUSIC MGMT. UK REGIONAL PAPERS AND MAGAZINES, PLEASE REMOVE FROM ALL COMPUTERS AND ARCHIVES BY 29/08/2013.

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After mystifying fans with their last album, New York duo MGMT have gone back to their roots for their latest - but they couldn’t care less if it’s not a hit, they tell Andy Welch.

There was a time five years ago when you couldn’t move for hearing MGMT’s Time To Pretend. Bloggers loved it, radio stations both niche and mainstream played it on a loop and TV channels used it as background music on various shows.

It was a good old-fashioned hit, closely followed by Kids, the second single from the New York band’s debut album.

When the eccentric duo - college friends Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden - released the follow-up, Congratulations, fans and critics alike scratched their heads at the challenging nature of the music and lack of radio-friendly singles, and wondered what had happened.

Today, three years on from the release of that album, they are about to unveil their self-titled third.

With the help of Dave Fridmann, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden have been working on their third album.

“To make this album we wanted to get back to those college days,” says VanWyngarden. “Just getting together and making sounds with no goal in mind.”

After a few months, they’d recorded hundreds of hours of music, huge blocks of improvised music without structure, verse or chorus.

This is where Fridmann came in, encouraging the duo to start trawling through the recordings to find segments from which they could carve songs.

“Dave is very good at recognising things and editing,” says Goldwasser. “He’s very good at trying new things without thinking of the goal at the end of it. It’s important not to feel like you’re stuck with one idea because that’s the only thing you came up with. We had hundreds of ideas to try.”