When MGMT burst on to the scene in 2007 with Oracular Spectacular, critics were falling over themselves to praise the band. The Brooklyn duo impressed with their psychedelic indie-pop and their debut album spawned huge hits with ‘Time To Pretend’ and ‘Kids’.
So, inevitably, their follow up Congratulations created high expectations and was eagerly anticipated. Is it any good? Well, the band have confessed that their second album doesn’t particularly have any stand-out singles. ‘Flash Delirium’ – already gracing the airwaves – is one of the more obvious choices for release, and Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden do nothing to dispel their somewhat oddball reputation by accompanying it with a completely bizarre video involving puppets, line dancing and eels.
The rest of the album lives up to the guys’ admission though. It’s certainly more mellow than Oracular Spectacular, and it seems MGMT have taken more time to create a record that’s interesting rather than one that’s going to produce Top Ten hits.
‘It’s Working’ and ‘Brian Eno’ are probably most likely to be follow-up singles. That’s not to say there aren’t any others worth consideration, but at 12 minutes long, ‘Siberian Breaks’ is unlikely to get the playlisting it deserves. ‘Lady Dada’s Nightmare’, whilst perfectly composed, lacks lyrics; and ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Song For Dan Treacy’ are great album tracks – but just that.
On first listen, the album seems lacklustre compared to Oracular, however, given half the chance its charm unfolds itself in different ways. Granted, it could still be mistaken for Marc Bolan in a modern day T-Rex – you can almost see the ‘60s swirling before your eyes on some tracks. And while there aren’t any outstanding hooks and riffs making songs instantly recognisable like on the first album, the songs are still creative enough to keep you interested.
Overall, though, the album doesn’t quite live up to its hype, or in fact its title. Congratulations sometimes feels a bit repetitive, and really, who needs a 12 minute song? At times the record is brilliant; at others, a bit tedious. It seems to be the perfect psychedelic soundtrack; an album for tripping out to – which is, perhaps, the point.