It’s amazing how a handful of electro hits, a gold headband and a few barefoot indie kids can bring a pscyh-rock revival. How will the flowery eyed followers of MGMT react to their difficult second album? Will the fake dream of 68 be crushed? Will the pseudo-spirit of San Francisco be gone? Are we fated to pretend? ALEXANDER BRITTON peers through the psychadelic purple haze…
MGMT – Congratulations
You know that ‘hilarious’ comedic device where someone slips a large book over a smaller one to mask what they are truly reading? Apart from being both simple and effective, it also suggests that the packaging of the product alters the way in which we can appreciate the product itself – it would be crass to be seen enjoying the Da Vinci Code, but less so Atonement. This proves that despite our mothers’ best intentions we cannot help but judge books by their covers, in this analogy quite literally.
Following the wildly successful Oracular Spectacular, news of the new MGMT album, Congratulations, caused the hearts of a million gold-headband wearing electrowhores to skip a beat. And they are going to be bitterly, bitterly disappointed. This is the problem: because the MGMT ‘brand’ has been attached to this piece of art, I can guarantee that the lack of singles, the lack of ease and the lack of it being-exactly-the-same-album-they-released-three-years-ago will irk many.
But, for a moment, slip the MGMT booklet out of the album case and replace it with anything else. You’ll discover that, in fact, Congratulations is a pretty good piece of work. Opening track It’s Working sets out the theme for the rest of the album – the synths have been placed to one side and this decision allows the quirky and faintly psychedelic element of the band to shine.
Song for Dan Treacy wouldn’t sound out of place on a Coral album, with driving percussion deliciously complemented by a soft vocal performance by Van Wyngarden and a quirky, semi-ska bass and organ combination. This then gives way to lead single Flash Delirium which is simultaneously beautiful and bizarre. Beginning with an undercurrent of Bowie at his finest, and therefore most odd, the song oscillates between a fine electro ballad and a generic 60s rock n’ roll single, before finishing with a Spectorian wall of sound.
For those looking for the new Oracular Spectacular, Congratulations is not it. However, rather than pining for the album which this isn’t, try and appreciate what it is – a well-executed and entirely competent slice of contemporary psychedelic rock-cum-electronica.