MGMT – Congratulations (Columbia) 12/04/2010

March 21, 2010 by  

A mixture of the last 50 years of popular music and Circus Vaudeville make-up the bizarre yet entertaining nine tracks on MGMT?s much anticipated follow-up to their Oracular Spectacular debut – but whatever it is you?re expecting from their second album, you should expect not to get.

Kicking things off is the surf pop of ?It?s Working?, which more than bridges the gap between the two albums. Typical MGMT (if I can get away with suggesting that), it?s a solid opener, paradigmatically psychedelic, with almost baroque harpsichords dispersed throughout to create what could be a lost Brian Wilson recording.

If C86 tracks could be no more of an obvious influence with Congratulations, on ?Song For Dan Treacy? you could actually be listening to one of Television Personalities back catalogue. Ironically it?s a polished track, taking the aesthetics of C86 post-punk into the 2010 with great equanimity.

With ?Someone?s Missing? the band remind us of the funk they have – although it takes one and a half minutes of echoed vocals before the song erupts into just under a minute of pure bliss, like a mellow Electric Feel. For an almost hook free album, who or what is missing could have quite possibly been a hit, and as this songs ending shows, this could have been it. Although they could have expanded this song, in retrospect you?re glad they didn’t.

The band recently quoted that there were to be no singles released from this record, and if you?re looking for another ?Kids? or ?Time To Pretend? then you won?t find it here. Even if recent free download ?Flash Delirium? has the same haunting qualities of the former, it?s almost a swipe at what they?ve done before (note lyric ?We?ll never be as big as the Rolling Stones?).

The gamble in this case has paid off. Where they could have easily created another greatest hits selection, they?ve avoided the obvious, and they?ve produced an altogether more interesting album – more 6 Music than Radio 1.

From camp fire sing-along ?I Found A Whistle? to 12 minute genre flipping ?Siberian Breaks? via celebrating Brian Eno on ?Brian Eno?, another more kaleidoscopic C86 type number, MGMT have been able to expand their musical landscape on this album, and have created a record for themselves, rather then to appease a record label or to prop up a chart.

The album closes with a true gem, title track ‘Congratulations’. Sarcastically self-congratulatory, it?s the most simplistic and effective number they’ve produced, which manages to sort the wheat from the Chav (intentional). This inspired folk tinged ballad is either a kick in the guts to those after just hits, or even a piss-take of their own success – proven by the hand clap finish. Regardless of the intention this is a great song, following the complete opposite, and most psychotomimetic number ?Lady DaDa?s Nightmare?. A bold title and a bold inclusion, a sonic instrumental which matches any vaudeville imagery conjured by its outlandish banner.

Luckily, off the back of their success, this record will be owned by many more than if it were to be a debut, and will no doubt be a number one album. Yes, fewer people will be adding any tracks to their ?Massiv Choonz? playlists, but it?s still an engrossing collection of songs, and although for completely different reasons, remains an exciting a release since… well ,their last.