MGMT “When You Die”

Rife with absurd monotony and psychedelic madness, MGMT’s second single off Little Dark Age, “When You Die,” caters to both the true fans as well as surface level, “Kids”-era faux-pop lovers. Its bright satire and psych rock aesthetic is reminiscent of Congratulations’ (2010), while simultaneously being sonically palatable to a more general audience.

Ironic juxtapositions between lyrics and melody establish an air of hipster apathy, surrounding the ageless concept of death and what happens when you die. Singer Andrew VanWyngarden sings “I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready, ready, ready to blow my brains out,” and “Go fuck yourself,” chanted rhythmically over plucky, indie-pop guitar, and Benjamin Goldwasser’s dreamy synth parts.

The main character of the video is portrayed as an artist (albeit strange) – more specifically, a magician – whose work is not appreciated. He is subjected to the repetitive daily tasks of waking up, eating ‘Glooby Loops,’ and drinking from a flask, and performing for a crowd that appears disinterested.

This surreal character escapes the humdrum into a psychedelic experience when a stage light falls on his head, covering his body in galaxies. The viewer weaves in and out of his perspective as memories of earlier shots flash between what appears to be animated embroidery as the doctors lean over his body.

Images quickly deteriorate from beautiful red and orange floral patterns into horrifying ones, faces turn into mountain ranges made of skulls or bleeding mouths and veins, and the viewer travels through abstract, layered universes of hyperstimulation.

The filmmakers used AI Style Transfer, creating “artificial neural networks to impose the stylistic qualities of image onto video footage,” (@whoismgmt).The brand of cereal eaten by the main character, “Glooby Loops,” is named after software made by Burakoff and Jamie Dutcher, extending the metaphor of loops from cereal to actions to images. Collectively known as KingDrippa, the pair reworked multiple iterations of the program to create the first video to utilize this technology.

This long-awaited fourth full-length studio album is due in February according to The New Yorker, though the date has not yet been specified.

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