Congratulations proves unimpressive
For those loyal MGMT fans out there, you are in for a mellow ride. Congratulations, MGMT’s sophomore album, is filled with songs I would be likely to hear if I were strolling through a haunted graveyard (if there were music) or living in the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” music video. This mixed bag of ambient and possibly drug-influenced songs is still fun to listen to and will bring a sense of nostalgia to listeners who also happen to be fans of Pink Floyd or other psychedelic rock groups.
On a positive note, the newest nine-track album from this budding group sounds well-coordinated and fluid; each song complements the next. The smooth and low-key vocals combined with muted drums and indie rhythms makes each song perfect for lounging around in one’s pajamas on a Sunday.
On a more scandalous note, one can also imagine thse songs as a soundtrack to an acid trip. The complex guitar notes are pleasant to listen to, while the added-in electro-pop sounds make each song seem like it is constantly evolving. In fact, one 12-minute song in particular, “Siberian Breaks,” does just that. Each segment of the song contains a story with confusing lyrics and a distinct beat to match. If one listens to the album in one sitting, as I did, one will not be able to tell where one song ends and the next begins.
One thing about Congratulations that may confuse listeners is the lyrics. “Someone’s Missing” describes a person who has gone astray in a very sorrowful yet imaginative way. The album title song at first evokes the air of a slow, sappy love song, until one listens closer and realizes the song is complaining about government officials and then deciding to be apathetic. The song isn’t happy at all, but rather mocking, deftly explained by “I save my grace with half-assed guilt/And lay down the quilt upon the lawn/Spread my arms and soak up congratulations.”
Even with the cynical and questioning undertones towards everyday life, the songwriting combined with complex sounds puts Congratulations ahead of the mainstream pack, both in terms of talent and plain old intrigue.
A great song on the album is “Flash Delirium,” one of the more upbeat songs of the bunch. While the reason for the band’s popularity may be indescribable, the beat and melody are head-rocking and the chaotic lyrics make the song that much more interesting.
Overall, these types of songs are generally not everyone’s cup of tea, but the refreshing new sounds and lyrics keep the true listeners on their toes. For bigger fans of MGMT, these songs will still be a hit or miss, and definitely a big change from their previous upbeat and faster-paced albums. While their previous tracks, released on the group’s first album Oracular Spectacular, are quite different from their newest beats, it is clear that MGMT has matured both technically and culturally with the creation of this newest album.