MGMT: Congratulations

MGMT: Congratulations

Artist: MGMT

Title: Congratulations
Release date: April 13
Label: Columbia

I guess the kids are kinda disappointed in the new record by MGMT. Apparently, they expected another dose of harmless and forgettable electro-pop, like they got a couple of years ago with the band's debut, Oracular Spectacular, and the singles "Kids" and "Electric Feels."

I certainly didn't anticipate much from this Brooklyn band -- and I usually don't from bands that play free shows at shopping malls. And after listening to Congratulations, I can see why people may feel slightly let down by the band. But to me, it sounds as if MGMT sandblasted away the sugar coating on their sound and found something nutritional underneath it. 

With MGMT is giving what it thinks its fans need instead of what they want. Works for me, at least. Hopefully, at least a few of MGMT's more adventurous fans will go along for the ride because this is a pretty smart record, and far more interesting than what they did on Oracular Spectacular.

What they've done is make a record steeped in 1960s British psychedelic pop (surely, producer Sonic Boom, formerly of Spacemen 3, taught these Brooklynites a few things) yet is not a slavish re-creation of the genre nor some kind of exercise in retro. Congratulations sounds like a band fully cognizant of its musical prowess and potential for growth. I look forward to see what MGMT will do on their next record. You can almost bet it will sound nothing like Congratulations.

Best song: There really doesn't seem to be radio-ready single on Congratulations, which is surprising given that the record is on Columbia. But neither did the new Broken Bells CD contain anything that smelled like a potential hit. Anyway, "Flash Delirium" is as good a song as any on Congratulations.
Rotation: Medium-heavy.
Deja vu: Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and other British psych-pop bands from the mid-'60s.
I'd rather listen to: The Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight
Grade: B+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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