Status-Out as of 2010
2nd Studio Album
Two years ago, MGMT were a little known band supporting of Montreal, and having just released their 1st EP “Time To Pretend”. Little did they know that their 2008 album “Oracular Spectacular” would instantly launch them into the mainstream. Apparently, they really didn’t like this. Now with their 2nd album, “Congratulations”, they have made it very clear that they want to lapse into an obscure world where they won’t have any well known ‘singles’. In other words, this is not the MGMT you used to know.
Congratulations starts with “It’s Working”, rushing in bombastically with surf-pop inspired guitars/bass under pinned by fantastical synthesizers. I don’t know if they noticed, but it is an undeniably catchy song—when the entire band is chanting “it’s working in your blood”, there’s no way you can avoid the urge to sing along. The same can be said for their not-single “Flash Delirium”. Granted, it’s not the best version of a radio-friendly danceable pop song, but the thick synthesizers and endless hooks will leave this song as engrained in your mind as “Kids” ever did. Yet, amongst these innovative songs, MGMT still manage to fall over themselves trying to lose their dance-aesthetic. “Someone’s Missing” does everything to make it as psychedelic as possible, even going as far as adding a really poorly placed sitar. It picks up toward the end, but goes absolutely nowhere. Unlike similar works by of Montreal, Animal Collective, and even The Who, their twelve-minute multi-movement piece “Siberian Breaks” sounds overdrawn and forced. The movements lack any sort of cohesion, each one being completely different from the previous with awkward transitions between. The individual components could each be turned into their own great song, but as one, it flounders severely. “I Found A Whistle” provides some sort of serious musicianship with a gorgeous soulful tone and space-y organs, even if the subject matter is slightly ridiculous. “Brian Eno” also plays up the inane subject matter (it’s a strange glorification of Brian Eno), but as with “Whistle”, it is masked by wonderfully poppy and mashed-together synthesizers. Much to their dismay, this song would be an undeniably radio-friendly single. “Congratulations” closes the album in a calm, very reorienting manner. If you get past the almost laughable Flight of the Conchords-esque delivery, it offers a good amount of ordinary closure to a very odd album.
The album really wasn’t that bad. As a whole, MGMT achieved their goal and then some in departing as far away as possible from Oracular Spectacular; it’s more psychedelic, contains more intelligent lyrics, and all in all sounds significantly more complex and thought out. However, they seem to be suffering a musical identity-crisis where they combine ten plus genres in one song, and they’re becoming absurdly pretentious: just look at “Brian Eno” and “Lady Dada’s Romance”. MGMT had built massive bridges with their debut, but “Congratulations” let them burn them all down to the point where their career will start over and progress slower, or as they put it “more naturally”. I’ll at least commend them for that.
"The title ties into this cynical philosophy I have. It's like, Congratulations, you're Bono, you've made it. But what do you really have? You still don't have any answers."-Andrew VanWyngarden
Video for Flash Delirium
Recommendations: It's Working, Flash Delirium, I Found a Whistle
MGMT's Official Website
Note: YAY! Review out! Hasn't happened for a few months, and now I'm back and ready to post more of them. Hooray! Anyway, I'll post a picture of my actual copy soon, but if it matters, I got the picture from google images. I hope you enjoy and I appreciate your comments!