Here's the thing about MGMT's performance on Letterman Thursday night: At first glance, it's lackluster, awkward, weird, even sort of ... boring. But that's the whole point.
The track —the first single from the Brooklyn duo's self-titled third album, out September 17—is a repetitive and droning blast with deadpan lyrics about, well, living a lie. It's a joke, a psychedelic version of a sly, wink-and-a-smirk Devo song. And the music mirrors the mechanical nature of the band's target: the sad human existence (work-eat-sleep, and repeat) leading up to our unavoidable deaths.
"Lessons in life / Your life is a lie / Now there's no time / Wondering why," frontman Andrew VanWyngarden sings in a flat, robotic tone. "Nobody wins / Try not to cry."
It's absurd and so is MGMT's approach. The track's music video (watch below) is a non-stop screwball comedy with a cast of ridiculous characters, from smiling dolphins to midgets in latex. On Letterman, VanWyngarden wore Elton John-style star-shaped sunglasses, a poncho and a neckless with dangling teeth, all while hitting a giant cowbell with a baseball bat-sized drum stick. Emblazoned on its side: "BE AWARE."
The performance must've unsettled the crowd, who were slow to clap, and even Letterman was taken aback, sauntering over with an outstretched arm, searching for a handshake: "Thank you, boys! Thank you so much," he said hesitantly.
Hey Dave, the kids are alright.