Congratulations

Pitchfork on MGMT's new joint:


If you're coming to the second MGMT album because you loved "Time to Pretend", "Kids", and "Electric Feel", there's the door. No such moments exist on Congratulations. Hell, there aren't even failed attempts at replicating those songs here. This time out, MGMT aren't crafting pop; they're Creating Art. The problem is that many of the half-million or so people who bought their debut, Oracular Spectacular, just want a couple catchy-as-fuck, ear-candy singles to blast in their cars or put on with their friends...

Now they've returned with an album full of that stuff, and the result is audacious, ambitious, and a little fried. Working with Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom, MGMT have crafted a grandiose but not always clear-eyed record. Instead of the commercial climbers they're lumped alongside (the Killers, Kings of Leon, Muse), MGMT follow the lead of the Flaming Lips and Beck and prove to be kindred spirits with Of Montreal, Yeasayer, and Klaxons. They're in love with 1970s art-rock, and they've immersed themselves in uncool subgenres like pop-psych and prog. And despite the lack of marquee songs, they've made, top to bottom, a more interesting and even better record this time out...

If their success granted them the opportunity to do whatever they wanted, MGMT took advantage of it, layering songs with a surplus of ideas when a few good ones would have done. Every track here has successful passages, but frustratingly, they too often turn out to be detours or trap doors. In general, the less cluttered and more focused their tracks are, the better they turn out. The most satisfying songs are the ballads-- the title track in particular, but also "I Found a Whistle"-- or the ones like "It's Working" and "Someone's Missing" that walk a fairly linear path. The most arduous is the 12-minute "Siberian Breaks", which has some intriguing elements but little discernible reason to be so densely constructed.

The Flaming Lips comparison is interesting. I kind of feel bad for liking "Time to Pretend," "Kids" and "Electric Feel." Those are my favorite tracks (along with "The Youth") off the last album. I don't hate pop. I don't know what that says about me and my tastes. For my money, the album feels really unfocused. I'll write more as I listen more.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In