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MGMT - Congratulations Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 8.25
Lyrics 7.75
Production 8.5
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 82%
Member Ratings
Vocals 6.96
Musicianship 7.22
Lyrics 6.22
Production 7.22
Creativity 7.18
Lasting Value 6.53
Reviewer Tilt 7.19
Average: 69%
Inside AP.net

MGMT - Congratulations

Reviewed by: Keagan Ilvonen (03/26/10)
MGMT - Congratulations
Label: Columbia
Release Date: April 13th, 2010


MGMT happens to be one of those young bands that play music for the hell of it and ultimately write a few songs that end up being monster hits. With the release of Oracular Spectacular, everyone knew that Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden weren't your normal kids. But aside from their drug-induced electronic jams they had a fluent and enjoyable experimental side that went overlooked. While their singles brought them fame, it was obvious that everything on Oracular Spectacular aside from their three huge hits was along the lines of their true craft. When Congratulations was announced, they made it clear that if you were expecting "Kids Pt.2" you would be let down, yet people failed to take their advice.

Things got even weirder when they stated that there would be no singles on the new album, again straying further from their path to stardom. The icing on the proverbial cake was that there would be a 12-minute epic on Congratulations. If that isn't enough to stray away their fair-weather fans, I'm not sure what will. But with that drive and energy, the band did what they set out to do. Call it cliche, call them fake, call Congratulations a joke, but the band created something that was true to who they are and you have to give them respect for that.

If there was a word to compare Congratulations to Oracular Spectacular, it would be "opposite". Take everything you remember about the last album and throw it out the window, run it over with your car once, and throw it in reverse to make sure it's done for. All of the effort that was driven into the singles of the last album left everything else to be lackluster. While the singles were great and left a mark on pop culture, the other side of the band needed to be drawn out and given a chance to come to life. Lucky for us who enjoy music outside of catchy hooks and jingles, we got what we wanted - a fucked up and weird album that touches on so many different sounds that "ridiculous" would be an understatement. The boys put down the synthesizer and picked up other instruments and made some of their best music ever.

"Flash Delirium" was the public's first taste of Congratulations and the majority despised it enough that the band released an ironic apology that better resembled a goodbye. A goodbye from the mainstream world and a hello to the counter culture. The song lacks a chorus, doesn't have a catchy beat to it, and sounds like the soundtrack to a 70s movie scene, but you can't do much better for a song with no structure whatsoever. "It's Working" is a great opener, with echoing vocals, bumping bass, and a 60s surf rock groove that is reminiscent of The Beach Boys. The album continues without skipping a beat with "Song For Dean Treacy" which takes a modern swing with a festive Halloween synth line. "Someone's Missing" is the closest contact to Oracular Spectacular, showcasing the feel good chamber falsetto but ultimately serving as an interlude into "Flash Delirium." Lyrically, "I Found A Whistle" feels like a call to the past with its full chorus and retro ambiance.

Next is the acid epic known as "Siberian Breaks", which turns out to be not just a psychedelic jam but possibly the band's most complete and delivering piece of work yet. It touches bases on everything from the band's past up into the unpaved future which is great for your set of ears. "Brian Eno" sounds like a page torn from Bobby 'Borris' Pickett's book known as "Monster Mash." As creepy as it is, the ode to the writing/producing mastermind is catchier than it appears to be after repeat listens. Finally the title track brings everything to a close by calming down the quirkiness of the rest of the album. It paints a picture of a sunny, careless island where Goldwasser and VanWyngarden have dwelled for the past few years while they wrote this odd and polarizing record. That may be an oxymoron, but that's how it's meant to be and that's fine by me.

Congratulations is a mission, a mission to weed out the weak and keep the strong. Singles aren't what make a record; they are merely superficial means of showing off, and that isn't how MGMT are. Sure, they are strange fellows, but they accomplished their mission. They made a record that doesn't have one radio hit, let alone a single and yet is stronger than their previous efforts. How is that? Because they did it on their terms and they know it. This album has separated the true fans from the radio pop posers and that was its goal. But don't try to give them a pat on the back, they already know...why do you think they named the album Congratulations?

Recommended IF You LikeThe Psychedelic half of Oracular Spectacular; Modern music gone retro; 60's and 70's jams
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 100
12:08 PM on 03/26/10
#2
zachff
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This review I want to read
12:11 PM on 03/26/10
#3
pleasegoodmusic
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When you start off a review with an assumption like this...

"MGMT happens to be one of those young bands that play music for the hell of it and ultimately write a few songs that end up being monster hits."

I guess it's easy to draw a conclusion like this...

"This album has separated the true fans from the radio pop posers and that was its goal."

I disagree big time.
12:12 PM on 03/26/10
#4
Jeff_Ryan
easy come and easy go, whatever
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I liked this album a lot
12:12 PM on 03/26/10
#5
zachff
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Quote:
This album has separated the true fans from the radio pop posers and that was its goal.

I think that's unfair. As you said in your review, OS is the exact opposite of this record. If someone really enjoyed the singles from that album and therefore listened to OS and liked it, they were MGMT fans. The band has gone a completely different direction here (good or bad, your choice) but it's crass to say those people were "radio pop posers."
12:16 PM on 03/26/10
#6
Keagan Ilvonen
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I think that's unfair. As you said in your review, OS is the exact opposite of this record. If someone really enjoyed the singles from that album and therefore listened to OS and liked it, they were MGMT fans. The band has gone a completely different direction here (good or bad, your choice) but it's crass to say those people were "radio pop posers."
I guess when I say a completely different, I mean they took the not so successful side of their music and broadened it out and elongated it to new levels. I can't tell you how many kids I have run into that jock MGMT, but yet can only name off Kids and Electric Feel. I feel like if you truly like a band, you should appreciate the majority of their work, specially when they only have one major release. To nitpick songs like people do with this band is kind of absurd.
12:17 PM on 03/26/10
#7
Shatter_Glass
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cannot wait to listen!!!
12:24 PM on 03/26/10
#8
pleasegoodmusic
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I guess when I say a completely different, I mean they took the not so successful side of their music and broadened it out and elongated it to new levels. I can't tell you how many kids I have run into that jock MGMT, but yet can only name off Kids and Electric Feel. I feel like if you truly like a band, you should appreciate the majority of their work, specially when they only have one major release. To nitpick songs like people do with this band is kind of absurd.
I don't understand this line of reasoning. MGMT is a pop band with three huge pop hits. Why would you fault anyone for liking the band's singles, all which were released with the singleminded purpose of getting people to like the band. Let's be honest, pop singles are what made this band sell tons of records, get a grammy nomination, and gain national attention. Now they want to punish people for only liking their pop songs? Stupid. Without the hits, they're just another brooklyn band with like, 30 fans.
12:24 PM on 03/26/10
#9
Memphis
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well, I was listening to Congrats. for the past few days and I loved it, so I decided to try Oracular and I love it too (never heard it before), I wouldn't say this album is completely different, it's definitely them, it's just a little bit more experimental, I'd describe it as circus rock (or clown rock perhaps)... but it's just my first impression, I have listened to the album so many times and never felt the same way about it. But it's great.
12:25 PM on 03/26/10
pleasegoodmusic
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Agreed, I can't count the number of times my friends shouted at me to put Electric Feel on at a party.
Like, numerous times a night.
Yet when I played Flash Delirium to them they had a horrified look on their face like I just raped their innocence away.
Possibly because 1) Electric Feel is a great song to play at a party, and 2) Flash Delirium is really, really bad.
12:31 PM on 03/26/10
WakingTheMisery
<3
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Band is awful. I wouldn't say the musicianship is even good.
12:33 PM on 03/26/10
Keagan Ilvonen
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I don't understand this line of reasoning. MGMT is a pop band with three huge pop hits. Why would you fault anyone for liking the band's singles, all which were released with the singleminded purpose of getting people to like the band. Let's be honest, pop singles are what made this band sell tons of records, get a grammy nomination, and gain national attention. Now they want to punish people for only liking their pop songs? Stupid. Without the hits, they're just another brooklyn band with like, 30 fans.
I understand what you're saying but I don't think the intention of MGMT was to go out and make pop hits. Sure that's what got them national attention and a grammy nomination, but given their history is that the kind of music they make? Is that who they really are? They even stated that the new fame caught them off guard and never expected it. What's wrong with them using their status to sell records that are filled with songs that they are all about? I don't see this as punishing their fans? There has been evidence leading up to Congratulaions that it was going to be a more psychedelic record that wouldn't sit well with the mainstream folks. Where were the press when the band released Metanoia? The one song, 13 minute EP released in 2008? If that wasn't a good indicator of what was to come then I don't know what to tell you.
12:39 PM on 03/26/10
mmitrick
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Personally, i thought this album was pure anus! decent background music at best....a major disappoint
12:41 PM on 03/26/10
Shakriel
I just need reassurance.
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I like this album better than their previous effort, personally.
12:44 PM on 03/26/10
Keagan Ilvonen
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I like this album better than their previous effort, personally.
Ditto. Glad to see others that feel this way.
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