MGMT - 'Congratulations'
"they seem to have just sat around off their faces, included any old whim without quality control, then told each other that it’s all some kind of visionary magic"
Prior to the release of 'Congratulations', announcements from MGMT seemed to indicate that this would be some sort of epic mind-melting opus. However, it isn't all that ambitious or inventive, and is in fact a collection of underdeveloped ideas half-heartedly moulded together. Whilst it is indeed a far cry from their first album, it is by no means pioneering, instead feeling like a cheap prog-rock pastiche. Cringe-worthily, at some points it sounds like Flight Of The Conchords taking the piss out of this sort of thing, except without the self-aware humour.
Whilst the debut album contained some “psychedelic” ideas and influences, its strength was that it also had well-structured pop songs, which makes this record especially frustrating. Occasionally a good idea will appear, but devoid of any meaningful context it will sink, unused and forgotten, drowned under some ridiculous recorder solo that the band probably had a right giggle ’n’ gurn recording, but which sounds lazy and rushed to listeners not in on the joke. At least I hope the recorder solo is a joke.
It’s not madness to try something different. You almost admire their courage. And 'Congratulations'’s not poor throughout - 'Brian Eno' is rather silly but actually pretty fun, and 'Song For Dan Treacy' demonstrates signs of self-restraint that make for a fairly entertaining listen.
At times you are almost tempted to say "well done" (Congratulations?!) for trying something different. But then you realise that they don’t seem to have really tried to escape their comfort zone - they seem to have just sat around off their faces, included any old whim without quality control, then told each other that it’s all some kind of visionary magic. And it is perhaps this contrast between their own inflated opinion of their actually-rather-limited creativity, and the reality of it being largely self-indulgent twaddle, that makes this album particularly disappointing.
MGMT - Brian Eno (STREAM ONLY)
'Congratulations' is out on Monday. Stream at whoismgmt.com and purchase there also.
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