Gosh golly gee. Forgive my childishness but I love it when a band makes a sharp turn and releases something this surprising and different from their previous output.
So far 2010 has been a pretty great year for music with new albums from Black Francis, Brick+Mortar and Vampire Weekend. Well now you can add MGMT's 'Congratulations' to the list. This is without a doubt one of the better albums I've heard in sometime and to top it off it puts their last album, 'Oracular Spectacular', to shame.
To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of that album, it seemed to be built around a few "single-ready" songs and a lot of lesser songs. 'Congratulations' on the other hand treats you to a sonic journey like few other albums in recent memory. From the fun ode to hallucinogens that is "It's Working" to the beautiful closing title track, this is nothing less than a great album.
Most critics have said that this album has no "obvious singles", I'm looking at you, Pitchfork, but they couldn't be more wrong. Sure there's nothing on here as catchy as 'Kids', but this album doesn't need a retread of that song. It has amazing songs like 'Song For Dan Treacy' with it's refrain of "He made his mind up," which I've had stuck in my head for weeks, and the aforementioned title track, with it's lush keys and acoustic guitar to sooth your soul.
Does the album stumble? Yes, but only for one track. That track however is the 12 minute plus 'Siberian Breaks.' I'm all for the long song in a band's catalog but this song seems to meander a bit after the 9 min mark.
If you absolutely loved 'Oracular Spectacular' and can't get enough of 'Time To Pretend' and 'Kids', guess what? You're going to be sorely disappointed and probably a little lost here. The only song that comes anywhere close to that level of "fun" is 'Flash Delerium', which much like 'Kids' has a pretty trippy video, after that the similarity essentially ends.
Overall, this is a stellar album by one of the more interesting bands to come along in the 2000's. They've moved away from the Electronic/Pop of their first album and dove head on into some intense Psychedelia with 'Congratulations.' Truthfully, they're all the better for it.
'Congratulations' is available for free streaming on MGMT's website here.
Song For Dan Treacy