Anyone hoping the new MGMT album would be more Oracular Spectacular and less Congratulations might be disappointed. If anything, Congratulations is to this self-titled third record as Oracular Spectacular was to Congratulations. A huge step outward to seemingly unfamiliar territory.
Album cover for MGMT’s self-titled third album
Oracular Spectacular was fresh because it was rough around the edges in a time when most music was smooth and exact in its production. They were a welcome sound to the mainstream music scene.
Congratulations was nearly the opposite. Smooth psychedelic that seemed to be trying to steer clear of any association with melodic hooks or pop music in general.
In comparison to MGMT, Congratulations is catchy and not as far a step as it seemed at the time. This record is even further away from the sounds of their first album as they go more toward an experimental, almost ambient flavour of psychedelic rock. And it’s purposely done.
Since achieving critical acclaim and popularity, MGMT have expressed a desire to avoid fame and the lifestyle that comes with it, as well as the boundaries they are expected to stick within when it comes to their music that they have since broken. It’s clear they have no intention of ever re-creating their first album.
With that said, they deserve credit for sticking to their word and recording the music they want to even if that means alienating fans of their previous albums.
As a self-professed fan of pop music, I know this album isn’t for me. There are no hooks. No redeeming instrumental breaks. The production is sonically varied but comes off as abrasive at times and the vocals are buried deep in the mix.
This album could be the middle finger to the industry that values instant gratification by shoving endless hooks, melodies and beats. MGMT are legitimately sticking to their convictions with music that isn’t easily accessible and likely needs more than a couple listens to even begin to grasp the intent and value of the record.
However, it still reeks of self-indulgence and tries too hard to show it’s not trying at all. Though it’s not quite careless per se, there’s a certain pretentiousness to putting so much effort into avoiding any parallels to the music you want to avoid being associated with, and that distracts from what could have been a reasonably good record.
1. Alien Days
2. Cool Song No. 2
3. Mystery Disease
5. Your Life Is A Lie
6. A Good Sadness
8. I Love You Too, Death
9. Plenty Of Girls In The Sea
10. An Orphan Of Fortune