Review: MGMT, Congratulations

MONDAY, 19 APRIL 2010

MGMT – Congratulations

Oh how they were confused when we were told of MGMT’S new ‘freaky’ album. Critics discussed possible outcomes. Was it going to work, or would they fall flat on their synthesized faces? There was only one way to find out. (Fight?) (No) Listen to the actual album.

 
It seems people were biased by pre-conceptions, even before they listen to the actual album itself. On hearing there was a twelve minute song in the middle, they cast it aside with rolling eyes, labeling it a commercial failure. But the band said themselves that they were not going for commercial success. Pretentious or not, it seems MGMT are not meant to be the arena band so many want them to be. But, if a band can still produce good music, surely it doesn’t matter that they shy away from the commercial side of things? Because, without sounding like a subtle Tom Meighan/Liam Gallagher, it’s all about the “tunes, tunes, tunes!”
 
Being a fan of ‘albums’ as an essence, I was pleased with the announcement MGMT released, saying that you have to listen to this as ‘an album’ rather than a collection of songs to get the full idea. In this day of random-single-buying, it’s refreshing to see a band still doing their bit for the endangered format. So bearing that in mind, what better way to completely go against there plan than to analyse the songs separately! What strikes me as the biggest difference in this album and the last, ‘Oracular Spectacular’, is the sound. Songs like ‘It’s Working’ have a distinct retro ‘wall of sound’/’almost-beach-boys’ feel. ‘Someone’s missing’ provides a simple song, with an uplifting end, fit for any gospel church service. ‘Flash Delirium’, the most singe-like of any song on the album (despite them recently releasing it on free download, the cheek), is a great song, but still distinctly ..different.
 
‘Congratulations’ is yet another simple, but very effective song. Bundled in with a suitably modest applause at the end, we get a low key, low-fi, but satisfying ending to the album.
 
The main case with this album is the fact it is ‘different’ – without being completely ‘out there’. It’s not as crazy as it was set up to be, but it definitely steps away from the commercial side of things. It’s how long the ‘differentness’ can last, and whether it has any substance. When the euphoria of strange sounds pass, i still feel we will look to ‘Kids’ and ‘Time to Pretend, (the first being abandoned in recent live shows) when we think of MGMT.
 
There’s nothing wrong with having a massive hit and writing new material. What I believe the band need to do now, if they want to move away from their ‘main songs’, but do it gracefully, is slip all the hits (‘Kids’, ‘Time to Pretend, ‘Electric Feel’) early on in the set, so the fans are still pleased, and then get on with whatever they want to.
 
The truth is MGMT, we like ‘Kids’.
 
Album Rating 6/10
 
Top Three Songs:
 
1. Congratulations
2. It’s Working
3. Flash Delirium
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