MGMT began on a whim. Principal songwriters Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden met at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. The duo soon began recording joke songs together as the Management. They tinkered with various styles before settling on the playful, electronica-infused brand of psychedelia that would rocket them to notoriety. By their senior year, they were the talk of the school; by all accounts, the rollicking "Kids" was Wesleyan's go-to party anthem. In order to avoid legal action from a preexisting band of the same name, the Management rechristened themselves MGMT and produced two EPs, We (Don't) Care and Time to Pretend.


The EPs got the attention of A&R rep Maureen Kenny, who tracked the duo down and signed them to Columbia Records. MGMT tapped sometime-Flaming Lips cohort Dave Fridmann to produce Oracular Spectacular, their debut full length, which crept up Billboard charts after it was released, in 2008, off the strength of funky electro-psych gems like "Kids," "Time to Pretend" and "Electric Feel." By the end of the accompanying tour, MGMT was the must-see act on the festival circuit.

Internally, however, the band was growing tired of the trappings of fame and the goofy, druggy posturing that fans had come to expect from them. They ditched the headbands and psychedelic digs that had been their trademark in favor of a more conservative style of dress. They funneled their frustration into the music, emerging in 2010 with their sophomore album, Congratulations, whose title track dealt with fame as a ball and chain, rather than the desired bejeweled holy grail so many musical acts sought out at the expense of integrity, relationships, even their lives.


Congratulations was a major stylistic left turn, favoring oddball new-wave and surf-rock sounds over the more groove-oriented pop rock of Oracular Spectacular. Many fans scoffed, but the band was seemingly undeterred. If pursuing their musical muse cost them the fame and the fans, it was all well and good. They got into the game for laughs anyhow. ~Craig Jenkins

Photo Credit: Ryan Muir/

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