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MGMT’s Sophomore Album Worthy of Congratulations Print E-mail
Written by MATTHEW LAMBERT   
Saturday, 03 April 2010
Brooklyn-based psychedelic rockers Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden shot to fame upon the release of their debut album Oracular Spectacular in 2007. The duo, who met as freshman at Wesleyan University, formed MGMT and signed with Columbia Records in 2006. Their mix of electronica, synth rock and psychedelic grooves produced such hits like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend.” Spectacular received album of the year honors from NME in 2008 and Rolling Stone named it one of the best albums of the decade in 2009. Not too bad for a couple of guys who starting out jamming in their dorm room just a few short years before.
MGMT


"Congratulations"
(Sony/Columbia)
Released April 13, 2010

Goldwasser and VanWyngarden had expected to release their sophomore effort, “Congratulations,” in April. However, the album recently leaked online, so the band has decided to stream the album from their website. “Congratulations” finds the band dealing with their newfound fame and delving deeper into the psych-rock resonance from their debut album.

Peter Kember (more commonly known as Sonic Boom) joins the duo as producer and Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux joins on backing vocals. In a strange act of boldness the duo apparently have no plans to release any singles or even promote the album. This would seem like an act of self-sabotage. Or maybe it’s an attempt to draw out genuine curiosity. Goldwasser and VanWyngarden say the album should be listened to as a whole piece… and this allows them to see which tracks stick out with fans.

At just 9 tracks, “Congratulations” travels across a landscape of kookiness, upbeat rhythms and drawn-out instrumentals. “It’s Working,” the opening track describing an acid trip backed up by a catchy chorus and surf rock vibe. The duo makes a psychedelic turn with a tribute to British pop-punk group Television Personalities with “Song for Dan Treacy.” The guys turn things up with “Someone’s Missing,” a synth-heavy ballad that could either be about death or a band member who hasn’t been found yet.

The standout track “I Found a Whistle,” starts out with echo of vocals and synth and builds to a wonderful climax of booming drums and harmonics. “Siberian Breaks,” a 12-minute track, feels like a dozen songs compressed into one. It switches from one style to the next, and I had to check if I was still listening to the same song a few times during its course.

The guys turn up the kookiness with “Brian Eno,” another tribute of sorts to the experimental producer and musician. The track’s oozing synthesizers, raw energy and repetitive Eno shout outs take a few listens to catch on to. The album turns instrumental with “Lady Dada’s Nightmare,” a track filled with jingling guitars, quiet organs and a little screaming. They wrap things up with “Congratulations,” smugly asking for recognition and accolades for their work. The soothing track combines quiet guitars and a steady bass with a whispering VanWyngarden. The track goes back to a surf-rock feel and VanWyngarden sings, “Spread my arms and soak up congratulations.”

We know the guys aren’t looking for a hit album; this much is evident from the lack of singles and promotion. It’s almost an anti-mainstream move by the band after the success of Oracular Spectacular. I think they’re saying, “Listen, I don’t care about all the fame and celebrity and all the crap that goes with it. I just want to have a good piece of work and a little recognition.” It’s an interesting concept, and it’s one that should work out for them. Give the album a listen on whoismgmt.com and I’m sure you’ll agree.

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