Congratulations | MGMT

| Movie Editor

MGMT broke into the music scene with their debut album “Oracular Spectacular” in 2007. The album spawned the hits “Kids,” “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend,” all of which fit into their electric-pop vibe, filled with catchy lyrics and beats. Their new album, “Congratulations,” unfortunately does not live up to this previous album. What it loses in catchiness, it gains in boredom.

“Congratulations” overall doesn’t have much to offer. Really, it just falls flat. The band moves almost completely away from its electric roots into a more eclectic, real sound that doesn’t quite work for them.

It’s hard to pinpoint the worst song on the album, because the majority of them are just not that good. The album’s first single, “Flash Delirium,” may just fit the bill. It is a little more electronic than the rest of the album, but it ends up coming off as cacophonous. The vocals are very weak on the song and are barely audible over the music. Toward the end of the song, they add in a random-sounding flute that has no place in the song and just adds to the cacophony.

The vocals are a major problem throughout this album. On “Oracular Spectacular,” the overworked, electronic vocals worked, but with the more real vocals on this album, their limits are more recognizable. This isn’t any clearer than on “Brian Eno.” The vocals in this punky song are strained and almost painful to listen to. Unlike a lot of the other songs, though, “Brian Eno” does manage to capture some of their last album’s catchiness.

By far the best track on the album is an instrumental, “Lady Dada’s Nightmare.” The song is slow, emotional and really tells a story. Even without lyrics, “Nightmare” manages to convey a tension building up. Really, MGMT should have stuck with the instrumentals, because most of the time, at least on “Congratulations,” the backing tracks outshine the vocals. “Lady Dada’s Nightmare” exemplifies this perfectly.

While not necessarily a good song, “Siberian Breaks” is very interesting. The 12-minute song is really a compilation of four or five songs. All of these segments have old-school rock vibes that switch up the melody and tempo each time. The combination of these segments gives the whole song an epic feel, creating an OK song. Also playing on this old-school rock vibe, “I Found a Whistle” is slow, emotional and other-worldly. It combines these elements to make a slightly better-than-bearable song.

After “Oracular Spectacular,” “Congratulations” is just a disappointment. It completely rejects their electro-pop style of the past in favor of a more organic rock one that just doesn’t work for them. Their voices sound strained and unbearable at times, leaving only the instrumentals to carry them. MGMT wanted to move away from what made them popular, which was just a bad decision. Stick to what you know, and you’ll prosper.

  • Steve Calvert

    I agree with Jessica. Actually try to learn what a band is about and trying to do before you criticize them for not being what you thought they were. If you didn’t like the album, it’s fine. Music is subjective and lends itself to multiple interpretations. This album is a great piece that gets better every time you hear it. But before you do listen, it’s best to approach it with fresh ears (throwing out all preconceived notions and past songs from the band) and just listen to the songs and see where the album takes you. This album is a ride.

  • Jessica

    MGMT are not and have never classified themselves as Electro-pop. They had 3 silly electronic, catchy, typical pop songs. Maybe if you knew something about the band, you’d be able to formulate actual educated opinions. MGMT are more rooted in psychedelic rock, and British pop rock bands from the 80’s. These old-school rock vibes are exactly the vibe you should be getting from their music. They didn’t “want to move away from what made them popular”, it’s just that, what made them popular isn’t even their style. Did you ever even listen to all of Oracular Spectacular? Besides 3 songs, the whole album has a complete rock and psychedelic vibe, just like Congratulations. It’s nonsense for someone to criticize a band because of one’s owns false image of them.