By Nick Manteris · 2 Comments · Leave a Comment
The Brooklyn duo, MGMT, started playing music together in college (the rumor is they were never trying to start a band) then quickly scored a spot on tour supporting Of Montreal and a deal with Columbia Records. There were hints of their future potential amid the rawness of their first EP, Time to Pretend, but they exceeded all expectations with their debut, Oracular Spectacular. (It was number one on my list of best albums of 2008 and the follow-up from MGMT has been one of the most anticipated upcoming releases of 2010.) With tracks like “Electric Feel,” “Kids,” “Time to Pretend” and even “Weekend Wars,” they’ve set the bar pretty high and it would take some kind of miracle to surpass that first album.
The first single, “Flash Delirium,” proves that they’re out of miracles. It’s a mish-mash of styles and strange chord progressions, most of which ultimately sound non-MGMT – if that makes any sense – and while it’s an interesting sonic experiment (that does eventually grow on you a bit), it just can’t compare to any of the aforementioned songs. MGMT already warned us that “there definitely isn't a “Time To Pretend” or a “Kids” on the album” so we shouldn’t be too surprised, but then again, they also claimed that they wouldn’t be releasing any singles, so they probably can’t be trusted. Their sound has changed on Congratulations, and the songs are somehow darker and more psychedelic…the opener, “It's Working,” perfectly exemplifies this. The darkness sometimes makes a sudden, unexpected shift into the bright, like in the end of “Someone's Missing” or in one of the several different ‘movements’ of “Siberian Breaks,” which really just seems like three or four songs squished together. “I Found a Whistle” and its silly lyrics are the low point of the album, but there aren’t any really great songs to offset the negative influence this time…though all of the other tracks are at least good.
You can listen and decide for yourself since this album was leaked to the internet – MGMT is streaming Congratulations for free on their website because of the leak. They also said, “We wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn't make sense to anyone but us.”
To recap: Congratulations isn’t a bad album by any means… MGMT just made it almost impossible to compete against themselves. They’ve made a valiant sophomore effort by redefining their sound (the Scooby Doo organs are a nice touch) and they’ve consciously avoided recreating their past successes (big props for that), but all they could realistically be expected to do was not fail. Well, I’m here to say that they have succeeded at not failing, so I guess this album can be considered a success.