MGMT’s ‘Flash Delirium’ Video: Sensible Nonsense, Justifiably So

Video is like Beck's bizarre 'Sexx Laws' clip for a new generation.

There’s a whole lot going on in MGMT’s just-released video for “Flash Delirium” (currently playing on their oddly austere Web site), and like seemingly everything involving that band these days, little of it makes much sense.

The song is the first single off their upcoming Congratulations album , which the dynamic duo pretty aptly described as being “a reaction to fame and success … and pseudo-mystical bullsh–,” and the “Delirium” video seems as if it was made specifically to trump up the latter: We get creepy ventriloquist’s dummies, a singing tracheotomy, dancing members of the Armed Forces, and an iron lung with what appears to be a sphincter attached to it, to name just a few, uh, moments. It’s sort of gruesome, a little funny, a bit unsettling and, at the end of the day, is completely nonsensical, which is probably what the guys were aiming for in the first place.

And while many are befuddled by the end result, I’ve got to admit that I enjoy it, mostly because “Flash Delirium” is so gleefully odd. It’s the kind of thing you don’t see major-label artists making anymore, because, well, these things never tend to end well for anyone involved. Which is why, perhaps more than any other video, “Delirium” reminds me most of Beck’s 1999 disasterpiece “Sexx Laws,” an all-over-the-place clusterfrick of clip a that didn’t quite kill Mr. Hansen’s career, but came close.

Like “Delirium,” “Sexx Laws” didn’t make an ounce of sense, which is most definitely what Beck — who directed the video — was going for. There were humping kitchen appliances. Pirouetting football players. A smarmy, sweater-clad support group called the “Vision Warrior Men’s Circle.” No one got it … which can pretty much be said for the album it was (in theory) promoting, Midnite Vultures, as well.

But that’s just the ephemeral stuff. “Delirium” and “Sexx Laws” also share several tangible similarities, too: The guitar player in MGMT’s band is a dead-ringer for the axe-man (or, more specifically, banjo/dust-pan-man) in the “Sexx Laws” clip, right down to the long hair and goofy costume. In both videos, men inexplicably grow breasts. There’s also the bizarre party themes of both videos, too (sadly, Jack Black does not cameo in “Delirium”).

But while history has been kind to the delightfully odd Vultures, the jury’s still out on whether Congratulations will have the same fate. Early reviews have been mixed, and even MGMT seem resigned to the fact that perhaps this one will fly over the head of pretty much everyone (actual quote from Andrew VanWyngarden: “We don’t know if our new album is crap or not”). But we can’t worry about that for at least a decade, so why bother?

In the end, much like “Sexx Laws,” you’ve got to admire “Flash Delirium” for at least pushing the boundaries, for getting weird and loving it, and for not even attempting to make a modicum of sense. If MGMT are being sensible about anything, it seems to be in their unrequited desire to be nonsensical. And that’s commendable.

What do you think of MGMT’s “Delirium” video? Is it adventurous art or something else? Let us know in the comments below!