MGMT
Congratulations


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
March 21st, 2010 | 29 replies | 7,264 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Congratulations shows MGMT refusing to become stagnant after just two albums.

Let’s face it – there is a great big world outside of Sputnik, and the vast majority of that world knows three songs by MGMT. “Time to Pretend”, Electric Feel”, and “Kids” took over popular radio stations for the last two years – and rightfully so. The songs were bizarre and ridiculously catchy; an identity that has stuck with the band very early on in their musical career. Enter 2010, where MGMT presents their second effort Congratulations. If the title wasn’t enough to make you wary, the album’s cover art featuring a purple and orange cat surfing had to at least make you suspect that a sophomore slump was brewing. Then came the streaming of “Flash Delirium” which, while vastly intriguing, wasn’t nearly as catchy as any of the three aforementioned songs from Oracular Spectacular. It all seemed to add up. MGMT was headed for a letdown, right?

Well, this time a bleak outlook actually took a turn for the best as MGMT released an album every bit as good as Oracular Spectacular – only different. Those who listen to MGMT for monstrously catchy singles will undoubtedly be disappointed, but Congratulations uses its uniqueness to pick up the slack created by what seems to be an absence of one album-defining song. What we have here is a collection of tracks that each contribute something to the album, but do not necessarily hold up on their own. This does not become evident after one listen, but Congratulations is definitely a grower whose songs reveal their importance more and more with each successive listen. This is no coincidence, as the band released a statement prior to the album’s streaming saying, “We've been talking about ways to make sure people hear the album as an album in order…and not just figure out what are the best three tracks, download those and not listen to the rest of it." Obviously, the band must have been frustrated with their identity boiling down to a couple of catchy mainstream hits. Congratulations shows a focused energy on creating a true “album”, which means that it won’t appeal to all listeners.

Congratulations follows in the 60’s style psych-pop footsteps of “Oracular Spectacular”, but manages to differentiate itself on several different fronts. Perhaps the most notable is MGMT’s first instrumental track, “Lady Dada’s Nightmare”. Each instrument is carefully introduced, starting off with a synthesized organ and then adding some light piano notes, restrained electric guitar, and eventually thunderous drum beats and a howling wind that seems to beckon the listener like a wailing siren. MGMT have created songs that garnered a great number of adjectives, but “breathtaking” was never one of them until now. “Lady Dada’s Nightmare” leads right into the album’s title track and closing song, “Congratulations”. This song is also a highlight; with Pink Floyd-like vocals that work surprisingly well with MGMT’s take on psychedelic rock. “Flash Delirium” is another track that refuses to be ignored. As I mentioned before, this song is not as catchy as “Time to Pretend” or “Kids”, but it works a lot better within the context of the album. From the eerie, almost middle-eastern sounding introduction to the broken woodwind notes, “Flash Delirium” sounds like nothing MGMT has ever written before. This once again serves to distinguish Congratulations from Oracular Spectacular, a goal that seems to go hand in hand with the band’s wish to create a unified album.

Congratulations is not without its drawbacks, however. For starters, the album contains only 9 songs. When you consider that one of those songs is an instrumental track, fans of the mainstream MGMT will be mightily disappointed. Also, some of the songs – such as “I Found a Whistle” and “Someone’s Missing” - just fall flat. For a band whose foundation relies on them being fun and carefree, they can’t afford to have many boring tracks on such a short record. Unfortunately, this is the case with songs like these which, while polished and well-produced, have no real substance.

As a whole, Congratulations shows MGMT refusing to become stagnant after just two albums. They shake things up, and in a way most people would not anticipate. Instead of moving even more in the mainstream direction, they actually make it a point to do the opposite. Their motives behind this change in direction are certainly respectable, as they wish for people to hear their albums as an experience rather than just a collection of singles. MGMT actually wanted to give the album away for free, but stated “That didn’t make sense to anyone but us." However, their intentions may earn them more respect from their fans. In the overall, the album is a bold move by a band seeking to be taken more seriously as artists. They succeed, and the result is a somewhat unexpected triumph by a band that is starting to really show what they are capable of.



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user ratings (781)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • BenHeller (3.5)
    As a listening experience “Congratulations” is fun, occasionally ridiculous, often mem...

    RobbieC (3)
    MGMT might be alienating their fanbase with this album, but there's sufficient evidence to...

    HeavyB (4)
    Record Sales....We Don't Need No Stinking Record Sales...

    ironbuddahfly (4.5)
    "Congratulations" is not the first warm day of the year that "Oracular Spectacular" was, i...

  • Dominic Mercurio (4)
    A curious, yet good release that will disappoint some and surprise everyone....

    Rudy K. STAFF (2.5)
    A decidedly run-of-the-mill rock record....

    Dylan S. (3.5)
    With their sophomore album "Congratulations," MGMT improves greatly compared to their debu...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

But Sowing, this album was already reviewed, and with the exact same rating!

I don't care.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

JWT155
March 21st 2010


9237 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This disappointed me, nothing really stood out for me at all.

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

Romulus
March 21st 2010


8434 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Very good review, have a pos.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


10405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i will put the hurt on this record

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Kiran
Emeritus
March 21st 2010


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i agree with most of this

Romulus
March 21st 2010


8434 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Random tips though:

You should probably differentiate between album titles and song titles. Just easier on the eyes. Maybe albums in italics?

And in the first paragraph, punctuation goes inside the quotes. Like “Time to Pretend”, Electric Feel”. But as I said besides that really good review.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks for the feedback. how do you put stuff in italics?

Romulus
March 21st 2010


8434 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

[ i ] [ /i ]

text goes in the middle, and without the spaces in the brackets

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that didnt show up...and boo who neg'd this

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh yes it did show up. must have been a glitch, sorry

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 21st 2010


7333 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

excellent review. i need to listen to this a bit more before rating it, but i agree with most of this.

Douglas
March 21st 2010


9102 Comments


I agree with klappy, i was gonna review this with lots of death but if klappy is doing it i wont haha

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i can definitely see why someone would give this a bad rating...it isn't as catchy as Oracular Spectacular and the first couple times i listened to it, it didn't seem all that great. no matter what though, Lady Dada's Nightmare is an awesome instrumental

AggravatedYeti
March 21st 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol "klappy" has really taken off huh?
nice.

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 21st 2010


4459 Comments


this seems like "hey we better put something else out because people are starting to forget who we are"

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


15963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i really wish they did put this out for free. as much as i like it, i don't know if im willing to buy it.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2010


28504 Comments


this cd is petty awesome

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2010


10405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

nothing nice about klappy

Douglas
March 22nd 2010


9102 Comments


rudy is nice

alachlahol
March 22nd 2010


7489 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this album is mediocre what else do you want me to say



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