While MGMT's newest release, Congratulations, may not be as instantly accessible as their 2007 breakout debut album Oracular Spectacular, the sophomore effort is certainly more thoughtful.
Coming off of hits like "Time to Pretend" and "Kids," it seemed as though the original twosome that founded MGMT, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, would have a hard time living up to the unique reputation they made for themselves in both the mainstream and indie rock underground.
In a January interview with Spin.com, VanWyngarden said that he and the rest of the band "did become the people [they] were making fun of" on their first album, and that Congratulations became about coming to terms with their newfound fame and "how fame and the stuff it affords doesn't get you any answers."
So for those looking for a reincarnation of Oracular, you won't find it here. MGMT presents listeners with nine tracks to take them on an acid trip complete with a wide array of bizarre instruments, including an omnichord, pan pipes and an electric sitar.
The catchy song, "It's Working," opens the album in a jumble of sounds, voices and instruments that build into a climatic instrumental bridge. The disarrangement and peculiarity of the song are definitely "what's working," and they act as a perfect lead into the rest of the album.
"Siberian Breaks" stands at a lengthy 12 minutes, and takes away from the strength of many of the other tracks. It is quite an ambitious song, but not all is lost. Though it creates a short lull in the middle of the album, its constantly changing nature and diverse soundscape will please listeners.
Random sound bites flood "Lady Dada's Nightmare," the lone instrumental track on the album that VanWyngarden describes as "nightmare-ish sounding." Messily dream-like, it's vaguely reminiscent of the noises on Pink Floyd's epic The Wall.
Released as a single back at the beginning of March, "Flash Delirium" is arguably the strongest track on the album, and like many of the other tracks, is remarkably danceable in a '70s psychedelic pop/rock sort of way.
The title track, and unfortunately the last song, "Congratulations," is devoted to the MGMT that we all came to know and love on Oracular. The band's unfamiliarity with their success is shown as VanWyngarden sings, "The ground may be moving fast / But I tied my boots to a broken mast," over a folky beat offset by a synthesizer.
As MGMT adapts to their increasingly prominent status, they've retained the ability to produce evocative songs. In the album's closing line, as VanWyngarden "Lay[s] down the quilt upon the lawn," he sings that he and the rest of MGMT are ready to, "Spread my arms and soak up congratulations."
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