Congratulations

Album Review of Congratulations by MGMT.

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Congratulations

MGMT

Congratulations by MGMT

Release Date: Apr 13, 2010
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative

63 Music Critic Score
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Congratulations - Fairly Good, Based on 18 Critics

AllMusic - 90
Based on rating 9/10
90

After the smashing success of Oracular Spectacular, it was clear that MGMT were going to be at a bit of a crossroads when it came time to follow it up. Would they try to simply re-create their single-rich debut and pray that they avoided the sophomore slump, or would they continue to evolve? Fortunately for the listening public at large, they opted for the latter, delivering a follow-up album that matches, if not triumphs over, their earlier work. Always moving forward, the band has stepped out from the shadow of sonic auteur Dave Fridmann, producing the album themselves with the help of Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom.

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Under The Radar - 80
Based on rating 8/10
80

Career suicide, heinous album art, and no regard for their fanbase. Those have been the three themes bandied about most often in early appraisals of Congratulations. And while following up the smash commercial and critical success of 2008's Oracular Spectacular, an album featuring no less than three absolutely scorching indie dance floor stompers in "Kids," "Time to Pretend," and "Electric Feel," the duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser this time delve deeply into their arcane record collections, unearthing such obscure '60 psych as The Electric Prunes and Baroque pop act The Left Banke, alongside '80s British indie icons Teardrop Explodes.

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Entertainment Weekly - 72
Based on rating B
72

Before the Grammy nods and the ? gold-certified debut, MGMT — then just young Wesleyan grads adrift in Brooklyn bohéme — opened their 2008 breakthrough, Oracular Spectacular, with ”Time to Pretend,” a brash forecast of Behind the Music-style excess: private islands, supermodel wives, glorious death-by-vomit-asphyxiation end. The fact that Oracular sold well enough to shift that song from a satire to a possible self-fulfilling prophecy seems to have scared the crap out of them. Core duo Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, who appear ?almost pathologically uncomfortable with their fame, have reportedly turned down supporting slots with Lady Gaga, U2, and Coldplay, and even wanted to give Congratulations away as a free download.

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Drowned In Sound - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

In impressively brazen fashion, the PR campaign around MGMT’s Congratulations has sought to portray the Brookylnite duo’s second record as some sort of heroically uncommercial last stand for the LP. This is disingenuous for all sorts of reasons, the silliest of which is the whole ‘no singles’ angle. True, you can’t buy ‘Flash Delirium’ in isolation, but given that it’s been the focus of a marketing campaign that has indubitably cost more money than 90 per cent of indie bands will ever make from singles sales in their lifetimes, the idea that Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have undergone some sort of grand retreat from the world is laughable.

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Pitchfork - 68
Based on rating 6.8/10
68

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.

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The Guardian - 60
Based on rating 3/5
60

MGMT's rock star-spoofing Time to Pretend single turned them into rock stars, but the follow-up to unit-shifting debut Oracular Spectacular seems designed to reverse the process. Spacemen 3's drug-enhanced explorer Sonic Boom produces an album that the band insist won't spawn any singles, which means Radio 1 playlisters won't be confronted with the likes of Lady Dada's Nightmare, a demented Pink Floydian fantasy of ponderous organs and screaming. The rest of the album isn't bad, just baffling: a bonkers psychedelic smorgasbord of flute solos, children's choirs, Television Personalities/C86 pastiches and, presumably, teapot-carrying gnomes.

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PopMatters - 60
Based on rating 6/10
60

“I hope I die before I get sold,” quips MGMT towards the end of Congratulations. It’s a clever one-liner, belied more than a little by the band’s gold-certified, Grammy-recognized stature. That it comes during the heavily anticipated follow-up to a wildly successful debut feels bitingly sarcastic. That it comes halfway through “Siberian Breaks”, however—Congratulations’ prog-inflected, marathon-length centerpiece—seems eerily appropriate.

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NOW Magazine - 60
Based on rating 3/5
60

When MGMT announced their second full-length would be devoid of big singles, it didn't sound promising. After all, no one listens to Oracular Spectacular for The Handshake. [rssbreak] While it's tough to get used to the idea of MGMT as an album-rock band, Congratulations doesn't come off as the unmitigated disaster it could have been. None of the songs hit as hard as Kids or Electric Feel, but there's also no filler (which is more than we can say for OS).

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Tiny Mix Tapes - 50
Based on rating 2.5/5
50

Although it was an unusual move, there’s something noble about the way in which Klaxons reacted to Universal Records’ criticism of their proposed second album: they admitted the label was right. As bassist/falsetto man Jamie Reynolds fessed up to NME in March of last year, the dance-punk quartet had made “a really dense, psychedelic record,” and after meeting with the suits they came to realize it just wasn’t their forte. Whether or not it was the right call remains to be heard — the fact that there’s still no release date on the thing might be a bad sign — but that’s not really the point.

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Slant Magazine - 50
Based on rating 2.5/5
50

Of all the little quirks MGMT has exhibited in their music over the course of their young career, perhaps dark, comedic hubris is the most intriguing. One couldn’t help but be amused at the tragic, skewered irony of the parodic “Time to Pretend,” a half-joking paean to the fantasy of a self-destructive celebrity life. Singing dreamily of choking on one’s own vomit lent their debut, Oracular Spectacular, a ludicrous, tongue-in-cheek charm that, coupled with the foot-thumping, chunky catchiness of “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” established MGMT as master purveyors of thick, retro synth-pop with a brain.

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Prefix Magazine - 45
Based on rating 4.5/10
45

Fact: MGMT is more famous than synth-pop duos regularly mentioned on music blogs usually get. Their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, sold over 500,000 copies in the States, and they went from unknowns to major-label signees to festival headliners. They’re a big-tent band, pulling in fans across age brackets. But they don’t get played on the radio, and they certainly aren’t Lady Gaga famous.

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No Ripcord - 40
Based on rating 4/10
40

MGMT would love to be difficult. They want to be artsy, original, psychedelic. They want legions of stoned indie kids to come to their standing room only shows. Instead they are burdened with a fantastic gift for melodic psych-pop and fans from all over. They hate it. They hate being popular, and ….

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American Songwriter
Their review was positive

MGMT Congratulations (COLUMBIA) Rating: A friend of mine once described standing on the stage at a British festival as MGMT attempted to perform their set. The afternoon crowd had swelled to a massive sea, spilling out of the tent where promoters had scheduled the band to play. Ravenous fans crawled up canopy buttresses in an attempt to better see their beloved outfit from across the pond.

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Paste Magazine
Their review was generally favourable

Surf’s UpBy Christina Lee Like a beach bum tearing off his clothes before diving into the ocean, MGMT sheds its electronic sheen and pop hooks on its second LP, Congratulations—and, with that, the accessibility of debut Oracular Spectacular. Cowbells and organ chords set the frenetic pace for this crazed and eerie take on surf music that namechecks the godfather of ambient in its punkest track (“Brian Eno”). But in between enlightened ramblings, the band interjects a refrain that bursts forth brighter than a July sun (“Someone’s Missing”) and cues up psychedelic movements that wash ashore like the calmest of waves (“Siberian Breaks”).

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BBC Music
Their review was only somewhat favourable

After a debut of sing-along hits, the duo takes refuge in druggy experimentalism. Johnny Sharp 2010 There is a stock interview quote given by artists following up a wildly successful album, explaining the new direction they’ve taken. “It would have been so easy for us to write another (insert name of hit record),” they say, “but that doesn’t interest us.” The truth is, though, that it’s anything but easy to reproduce the formula of a successful album.

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Delusions of Adequacy
Their review was unenthusiastic

MGMT has the same problem that many bands have going into a second record after a successful debut. Usually one of two things happens: they can of make another record along the same vein of the catchy tech pop songs as the first release or start over and write a completely new record. It appears that MGMT veered towards the second. As a person who bought Oracular Spectacular, I am surprised that they would stray so far from the hits (“Kids” or “Time To Pretend”) that earned them their first Grammy nominations.

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Austin Chronicle
Their review was highly critical

"I see the signs of aging," declares Congratulations opener "It's Working," and what follows is an awkward, though at times still exciting, adolescence: gangly and confused. MGMT's sophomore outing seems as intent on confounding the Brooklyn duo's actual success as infectious disco-glam debut Oracular Spectacular was at snarking a slacker vision of stardom. Spaceman 3's Sonic Boom as producer delves headlong into a psychedelic crevasse without a hook to hang from, the album overly packed with ambitious arrangements that never quite congeal.

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Paste Magazine
Their review was negative

Surf’s UpBy Christina Lee Like a beach bum tearing off his clothes before diving into the ocean, MGMT sheds its electronic sheen and pop hooks on its second LP, Congratulations—and, with that, the accessibility of debut Oracular Spectacular. Cowbells and organ chords set the frenetic pace for this crazed and eerie take on surf music that namechecks the godfather of ambient in its punkest track (“Brian Eno”). But in between enlightened ramblings, the band interjects a refrain that bursts forth brighter than a July sun (“Someone’s Missing”) and cues up psychedelic movements that wash ashore like the calmest of waves (“Siberian Breaks”).

Full Review >>

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