Monday, April 12, 2010
MGMT - Congratulations
Read any article about MGMT's sophomore album and they will all mention how the band has turned their backs on commercial success and fans expectations, making a record on their own terms, with music that supposedly sounds very difficult to assimilate. "Career suicide", I've even read somewhere...
Truth to be told, they would never have it easy anyways, what with all the success that they achieved with Oracular Spectacular (a success based on 3 songs that actually didn't represent the whole album); in these days, when everyone is a bit of a hype-slave, all that goes up has eventually to come down, fairly or not...
But to all true MGMT fans out there: fear not, because Congratulations is actually what you could expect from this band: a deep dive into an unknown world, and even if it's less immediate than what they did in the past, everything is still done with a genuine ambition to produce life-changing statements.
So there may not be any generational anthems like Time To Pretend or Kids, but the celebratory mood is still here, only the drugs have changed. This time it's all about hallucinating with sounds that recall many different references, which are assumed and proudly displayed: Kinks, Syd Barrett, Electric Prunes, Television Personalities, The Monochrome Set, Beach Boys... All assimilated and regurgitated in frenetic doses, sometimes not in the most subtle way, but always with loads of unexpected twists around the corner. The ambition was clearly to build an epic of cosmic digressions, using everything and more to reach the desired effect, be it flutes, organs, choirs full of reverb, hawaiian guitars or indian sitars.
With all the complex arrangements and apparently chaotic song structures, does Congratulations sometimes sound like a mess? Maybe so, at least on first listen. But, when immersing yourself more and more into this world, it never ceases from being an increasingly overwhelming place to discover new things. So this may have become one of the most divisive records of recent times, but for me there's no question: with an album that only makes sense as a whole, and with no stand-out songs to promote as singles, MGMT have created a psychedelic monument for our age. (8,5/10)
MGMT - Congratulations (mp3 via MFR)