Friday, April 16, 2010

First Listen: MGMT, Congratulations

There's an easy way to tell whether you're going to like the new MGMT album. If you bought the last one, Oracular Spectacular, for the singles ("Kids," "Electric Feel," "Time to Pretend"), and you thought the rest of the record was strange and off-putting, stay away.

Congratulations is being billed as a sharp left turn, but that isn't true. The band has just deliberately emphasized the odder, less immediate elements of what they do. The result is more Embryonic Flaming Lips than Yoshimi Flaming Lips, but the same touchstones remain. That said, you won't soon find yourself humming any of these songs, and the band has amped up the prog-rock, particularly on the four-songs-smashed-together epic "Siberian Breaks."

Still, it all flows nicely, and the funny little nod to Brian Eno helps to break things up. Instrumental "Lady Dada's Nightmare" is pretty wonderful, too, and the closing title track is probably the most melodic, ending things on a warmer note. Congratulations is a weird record, no doubt, but it sounds like one that will unfold over time. And it's good enough that I'll give it that time.

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