As far as most people were concerned, MGMT appeared fully-formed from nowhere in 2008 with the hit-heavy Oracular Spectacular, and fast became the band that all the cool kids were into – well, at least until everyone overdosed on the singles, particularly ‘Kids’.
It would be damn near impossible to match that sort of success, so it’s no surprise that the duo emphasised that Congratulations would not be a pop album and that ideally they wouldn’t release any singles. It was a point they made very, very clear when they hired Pete Kember, the whizz behind Spacemen 3, as producer. ‘Ah,’ you might ponder, ‘I wonder if MGMT are planning on something similarly narcotic and low-key?’
No: the jubilant ‘It’s Working’ comes dancing through the speakers, a lively slice of beach party psych. Meanwhile, ‘Song For Dan Treacy’ namechecks the troubled musician over a catchy-as-all-get-out song that walks the line between tribute to and pastiche of Treacy’s band, the Television Personalities. Elsewhere, the 12-minutes-plus ‘Siberian Breaks’ ventures into the sort of territory last explored by The Flaming Lips, and first single ‘Flash Delirium’ sounds like an update of Aladdin Sane-era Bowie.
In other words, this isn’t a retreat from the sound of the first album so much as an expansion. Whether it’s embraced or rejected by the ‘Kids’ kids remains to be seen, but going by the confident sounds of Congratulations, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser are unlikely to care much either way.
Andrew P Street. Available now in stores.