Photo by G.
MGMT‘s second album, Congratulations, is not scheduled for release until April 13, 2010 but thanks to a special friend, I received a review copy. The album is definitely a departure from their classic debut, Oracular Spectacular. Part of me feels like this will be career suicide for the band in the same way that Terence Trent D’arby committed it in the 80s by releasing a radio friendly debut album and then a sophomore “artsty fartsy” record, but I’ve found Congratulations to be an enjoyable listen. If you liked the 13 minute B-side “Metanoia” that goes through multiple genre changes, you’ll probably like the new album.
The album kicks off with “It’s Working,” a 4 minute surf-pop-psychedelic experience. They ask “how will I know if it’s working?” which seems like they are posing the question to their fans – “did we totally screw up by changing our sound dramatically?”
“Song For Dan Tracey” is another surf-pop track complete with echoed vocals and sonic organs. Like the opener, the track is basically hook-free.
“Someone’s Missing” is a short 2 and a half minute track that is pretty mellow. Towards the end of the song, it finally builds to a sing-a-long refrain of “It feels like someone’s missing,” but fades out right as the song starts to get good.
“Flash Delirium,” was given away as a free mp3 on MGMT’s website earlier this month and it’s spacey with multiple theme changes in the 4 minute song. It’s another surf-rock track that has a great climax at the end as the mid-tempo track gets really fast. As is the case with a lot of the tracks on the album, it’s another hook free track.
“I Found A Whistle” is reminiscent of “Someone’s Missing” as it’s pretty mellow all the way throughout the song and builds to a climax towards the end of the song right before it’s over. The track clocks in at 3 minutes and 40 seconds.
“Siberian Breaks” is a 12 minute song that is definitely the centerpiece of the album. It recalls their b-side “Metanoia” as there are multiple genre changes in the epic track. Several times I thought a new song was beginning, but instead it was just an MGMT change. I’ve counted no less than 4 changes to the track and each piece could probably stand on its own. The song ends with a 2 minute instrumental outro that has a progressive rock feel to it.
“Brian Eno” is MGMT’s tribute to the music god from the band Roxy Music. The track is fast and they rhyme “what does he know” with “Brian Eno” and “you reap what you sow” with “Brian Eno.” As with the rest of the album, it’s a psychedelic-surf tinged track. “Brian Eno” has a mellow breakdown in the middle and gets fast by the end of the song.
“Lady Dada’s Nightmare” is a spacey 4 and a half minute instrumental, which gets my vote for worst track on the album. It’s not bad for a listen every now and then, but it will not be a song you will want to hear repeatedly.
“Congratulations,” the title track, is a mellow acoustic-pop track that reminds me of “The Handshake” off their first album. They rhyme “cauldron” with “baldwin” in this track, so clearly they will not be winning any lyric writing awards with this song. Though the track is very laid back and slow, I think this might be my favorite track on the album. The song ends with a smattering of light applause, as if they are aware they are going to alienate fans who are expecting the groovy pop hooks of their earlier tracks “Kids” and “Electric Feel.”
On a scale of A to G, I give this album a B. I am very curious to see how the rest of the music world will react. The album definitely proves that MGMT can write some interesting songs but unlike albums such as Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” that take you on a musical journey in 45 minutes, this album has some interesting stand alone moments but doesn’t flow together all that well.
When you hear it, tell me your thoughts.