mgmt members
mgmt members

March 31st, 2022

Classic Tracks: MGMT – Time To Pretend

Each month we take a look at a classic track or album and discuss it from a music production perspective. This month we look at MGMT's era-defining 'Time To Pretend'.

The single appeared on the act's debut album, 'Oracular Spectacular', released on Columbia Records in 2008 and was rated by Rolling Stone as one of the top 20 albums of the decade. Intriguingly, the version that appeared on the album was a re-recording of an earlier version of the track.

While still at college, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser formed MGMT and recorded their debut 'Time To Pretend EP'. The EP was released as a limited run of 1000 CDs by Cantora Records in 2005. It was this record that brought the act to the attention of Columbia. 

Columbia wanted to include the song, 'Time To Pretend' on MGMT's debut album, but they didn't own the master of the original recording – necessitating the re-record. VanWyngarden and Goldwasser were asked to choose a producer for the album by the laebl. Neither were entirely sure what a producer did at that stage in their career, but they loved the drum sound on the recent Flaming Lips records. They asked Dave Fridmann, the man responsible for that sound, to come on board for the album's recording.

Fridmann's work on this record is notable not just because of what he did but also because of what he didn't do. He made important contributions, such as speeding the song up slightly and adding live drums (recorded with his expert touch). However, he also realized that there was a great deal that was good about MGMT's original recording of the song – even though it had been recorded on a laptop at college, with cheap Radio Shack mics. You can listen to this original version below.

VanWyngarden recalls; 'We had only 21 days to record and mix the album, so we worked really quickly and used a lot of the tracks that we had already recorded on our old shitty microphones at home, which Dave was really into.'

Many producers would have wanted to polish the track up far more than this, but Fridmann could see the magic in the original recording. He made sure that this was retained in the re-recording of the track and it went on to be a huge hit.


Eli Osher
Mar 31
love this album
Bella Garcia
Apr 04
Odeh Kems
Apr 05
Leaf Colors
Apr 06
The whole album is fantastic

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