Review ·

 

Fact: MGMT is more famous than synth-pop duos regularly mentioned on music blogs usually get. Their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, sold over 500,000 copies in the States, and they went from unknowns to major-label signees to festival headliners. They’re a big-tent band, pulling in fans across age brackets. But they don’t get played on the radio, and they certainly aren’t Lady Gaga famous. Or even Justin Bieber famous. But here's the question: Are they famous enough to become so jaded with that fame that they can sincerely create an album meant to refute their fame and shake off fans that came around after their first album?

 

That’s what Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have been claiming, in every promotional interview, their aim was with Congratulations, their sophomore album for Columbia. They didn’t want to expand their fame but rebut it and disappear into their music. That’s no joke meant to garner breathless NME blog posts. Congratulations shares nary a sonic smidgen with Oracular Spectacular, instead existing in a netherworld where mod-era psychedelia meets prog-rock and where the ecstatic heights of the band’s debut don’t exist.

 

Whereas Oracular Spectacular was an album that drew in crowds via its blissful singles (“Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel” and “Kids”), Congratulations is an album that demands listeners jump down MGMT’s rabbit hole and enter into their trippy headspace. Dulcet surf-rock tones open the album via “It’s Working,” a meandering track that sets the table for MGMT’s newfound mellow vibes. The mod-rock plundering “Song for Dan Treacy” continues the theme, and “Someone’s Missing” adds (finally) the album’s first recognizable chorus via its closing minute.

 

The main problem with MGMT’s pop hook aversion here is that their take on Flaming Lips-lite prog-isms isn’t captivating enough on its own without the bleacher-shooting choruses of Oracular Spectacular. From the 14 stylistic changes on the four-minute “Flash Delirium,” to the spineless instrumental “Lady Dada’s Nightmare,” to the funhouse shlock of “Brian Eno,” this is the sound of a band turning in on itself at a moment when it could conquer the world. But those songs are just a minor warmup compared to the self-indulgence of “Siberian Breaks,” a 12-minute song that has more false endings than the last Lord of the Rings movie.

 

MGMT deserve some credit though: It’s a daring move to be this against what you used to be. The irony is that no matter how many fans are going to be disappointed with Congratulations (and the early guess is “a lot”), as many probably would have written the band off if  it had delivered Oracular Spectacular 2. While it’s a testament to the members of MGMT that they, while signed to stuffy old Columbia, went this route with their sophomore album, we’re still left with Congratulations -- a disappointing, middling album from a band that once appeared to be better than this.

 

***

Band: http://www.whoismgmt.com

Label: http://www.columbiarecords.com

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/MGMT

 

  • It's Working
  • Song for Dan Treacy
  • Someone's Missing
  • Flash Delirium
  • I Found a Whistle
  • Siberian Breaks
  • Brian Eno
  • Lady Dada's Nightmare
  • Congratulations

MGMT's second album is appropriately titled Congratulations, as it is the follow-up to the unexpectedly wildly popular Oracular Spectacular. The duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden have stated that lyrically, the album is riddled with allusions to their newfound fame. They even took Lady Gaga and Kanye West as inspiration. In a somewhat surprising move, there will be no singles released for the album. They decided to envision the album as a cohesive whole, even though the success of "Kids" and "Time to Pretend" as singles accounted for most of MGMT's initial popularity. They recorded the album in Malibu with Spacemen 3's Pete Kember with production help from Dave Fridmann.

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What? 28 December 2010? It is said that it will be realeased in the start of 2010

Francisco Gomes

That was suppose to say 2010 and not December 28, 2010. It's been fixed. Thanks.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

Album cover art added.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

i love the new album. more than the 1st.

dez

i think this is the 4th album. Oracular was pretty much the best pick of the first 2 independent releases with new songs added. Like major label debuts often are.

'We (don't) care' is a great record too if you can find it.
I really like the new one though, you can tell that members of Spacemen 3 were involved, heh

sparks

dude...the album is incredible! i love oracular, but damn it's great to hear something totally off the wall different. great job mgmt for not crumbling under the weight of what "fans" and what the record business wanted them to make. it's original...it's a breath of fresh air...

djboblazar

sounds like of montreal without good songs or a sense of humor

/site_media/uploads/images/users/breidy/Koko B. Ware.jpg breidy

::Sigh:: this band is so infuriating. They released their debut on a major label, went gold with their debut, got good reviews, and were an international sensation. They were only "indie" in that they were from Brooklyn and that people from Brooklyn liked them. What's so wrong with fame, boys? Man up!

(BTW, I like this album more than the first because the songs aren't quite as cheap, but poor man's Flaming Lips isn't all that much more appealing than poor man's LCD Soundsystem).

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Ethan/nirvana-corporate-rock-whoresjpg.jpg EStan

Jesus CHRIST.. am i listening to the same album as everyone else? It's fantastic !!

AK47

This is an incredible incredible album that would make Wilson, Barret, and Mccartney proud. The reason its getting such tepid reviews is because the first album pulled in alot of "radio pop" fans who would be content listening "A minor F C G" from now util the end of the eternity. Its those kind of people who are doing the wining. To the reviewer: Try listening to the album as its own piece of work, instead of evaluating it solely in terms of its (what i regard as much inferior) predecessor. I know its easier to do the latter, in that it doesn't require you to sit down and actually engage the album (give it more than 2 listens). But your adoring fans deserve it.

Miky B

Great Album!!! I saw a lot of potential and talent in Oracular though it was naive and simplistic. I disagree with the focus of the reviewer. This is a step in the right direction, focus in music evolution and not in popularity, even we all know you need both to survive in the long run. Remember me Syd Barret's first records with Pink Floyd... I can see Emily Playing in the first song! Again GREAT ALBUM...

Claudio

It's amazing. That's all there is to it.

Maxxie.

Hmm I don't know if it's amazing but it is verrry good. I am definitely a psych music connoisseur. Just don't listen to the haters on this. I honestly didn't even like oracular .. thought it was fairly typical electro-pop stuff. This to me is much more adventurous and interesting. I can tell it is NOT forced or being weird for weirds sake (it's not even that 'weird' so some ppl need to get a ******* grip). It is genuine and it IS art. 8/10 at the least.

Matt

This album was incredible. In my opinion, it was much better than Oracular, which was also a great album.

Hans

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