Thursday, 1 April 2010

MGMT: 'Congratulations'

‘Congratulations’ sees MGMT delve further into the experimental far-out psychedelica that their first album hinted at, a move which will polarize fans, leaving some championing the new sound and others weeping the ‘do-do-do-do-do-do’ refrain of ‘Kids’ into their tie-dyed headbands come festival season. Frustrated with the disproportionate success of ‘Kids’ and ‘Time To Pretend’ from their debut, MGMT have shunned the ‘single’, taking inspiration from the prog-rock albums of the 1970’s, creating a body of work to listen to as a whole.

The album opens with the infectious, surf-pop inspired ‘It’s Working’, followed by ‘Song For Dan Treacy’, which bounces with nervous energy into ‘Someone’s Missing’, a song so unmistakably MGMT that you can almost smell the free-love drenched ponchos through the speakers. The psych-pop vibe continues with the kaleidoscopic ‘Flash Delirium’ and lyrically baffling ‘I Found A Whistle’. 5 songs in and so far, so not-too-weird- it’s only in the second half of the album, during the adventurous and supremely satisfying 12-minute ‘Siberian Breaks’ that the band really start to flex their psychedelic muscles, melding about 4 different songs into one massive cosmic journey. Channeling The Flaming Lips, the song weaves between melodies and tempos and, crucially for a 12-minute song, never falls back on bloated instrumentals to fill up the time.

‘Brian Eno’s punk-pop bass-line and simple chorus of, well, ‘Brian Eno’, is about as brilliant a song about a multi-talented music producer you’ll ever hear. Unnecessary instrumental ‘Lady Dada’s Nightmare’ misfires as an atmospheric, experimental almost-album-closer, but doesn’t upset the flow of the album, which MGMT have clearly spent a lot of time obsessing over. Things mellow out for ‘Congratulations’, closing an album that for what it lacks in hit singles, makes up for in impressive ideas and depth. MGMT will probably lose a lot of fans as a result of the shortage of single material, but they should be respected for bringing the focus back onto the ‘album’ in an era of cherry-picking songs for 79p a pop. Appropriately, the album ends with applause.

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