MGMT releases a new album with old methods
by Carl Perks
Reference heavy, psychedelically enhanced and lyrically confusing, MGMT’s third album, Congratulations, is no logical follow up to Oracular Spectacular, their chart topping psycho-indie record that elevated the band to stardom, cranking out one electro-pop anthem after another.
Miserable in their newfound success, MGMT (formerly The Management) decided to put aside the catchy pop melodies and simplistic musical arrangements and took avoiding radio airtime into their own hands. Not in any way reducing the quality of the music, they deviated towards a more alternative and psychedelic approach. You won’t find any songs like “Kids” or “Time to Pretend” in Congratulations.
Setting roots into their influences, their album sounds more like the last half of Oracular Spectacular if it was produced by Phil Spector. The band attempted to make an album that would have no tubes, no hits and no particular crowd favourites. All the songs are meant to blend as one jumble of stories, juggling topics, melodies, instruments and references.
Despite their attempt to suppress any singles, they released the song “Flash Delirium” as a teaser. One of the most blatant shifts in sound apparent in this song is a new, deeper, singing style that only appeared in 4th Dimensional Transition before being plastered through this album as what people over the internet all agree to as a ‘faux-pas’.
Musically, MGMT’s arrangements are much improved and intricate. Some songs have over a dozen instruments playing at all times, ranging from flutes to horns dropping by strings and piano dipped in psychedelic guitar riffs and ambiance keyboard chords. Their new sound is somewhat that part of their arrangements that made them different from every other 70’s psychedelic rock bands, but now quarantined and set to overdrive.
Congratulations is also densely packed with references to musical culture, some concealed and arduous, others blatant and obvious. There are many comments on Lady Gaga; from ‘‘poisoned honey, pseudo science, silly money, you’re my honey’’ at the end of “Flash Delirium” to a whole instrumental song called “Lady Dada’s Nightmare”. There are even, to be noted, two songs that hold homage to British pop musicians Dan Treacy of Television Personalities and Brian Eno of Roxy Music. One is called Song for Dan Treacy and the other is simply named Brian Eno.
All the nine songs off Congratulations are streamed for free off their website and MySpace page. If you enjoy this new record’s psychedelic riffs, dreamy melodies and confusing lyrics, you might also find delight in the sound of the bands Animal Collective and Of Montreal.