With the success of their critically acclaimed first album, Oracular Spectacular, MGMT quickly became industry darlings with songs like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” showing up in movie trailers and commercials galore. Where most artists would relish this praise, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser shunned the attention. Out to prove their music wasn’t just the thing of teenage comedy film soundtracks, they created the songs that comprise Congratulations, their heavier, moodier second effort.
When the album leaked online last week, the band decided to stream it on their website for fans prior to its April 13th release date. VanWyngarden and Goldwasser intended to create an album without singles, and in doing so created nine songs with varying aesthetics ranging from trippy psych-rock of “Siberian Breaks” to the goth new-wave “Brian Eno”. The latter, a tribute to a pioneer in ambient music, sounds like what it might sound like if Svengoolie covered The Specials.
The album’s opening track “It’s Working” is a surf pop ride on a melodic wave of ecstasy, no really, literal ecstasy. VanWyngarden sings “As I lay down/I feel alright/My heart is racing/Turn the noise on/I’d like to feed my poison” to a melody that’s awash with rolling guitar riffs and choppy percussion. Perhaps this track is what inspired the album’s 90s-era cowabunga surf character art design or vice-versa. The song’s lyrics “it’s working in your blood/which you know is not the same as love/love is only in your mind and not your heart” evoke a jaded musician consuming drugs just so he can feel something again.
While a far cry from the electro-pop they first brought to the scene, Congratulations is still an inspired effort by the band, but just may not be every fan’s cup of tea.
Listen to previous tracks by MGMT