“Congratulations” – MGMT
Highly Evolved is going to be changing a bit in the next few weeks. We still haven’t completely figured out what this will entail, but we do know that we’ll have a dedicated twitter page for the blog, which we will update regularly and may even have live concert “tweets” (wouldn’t that be fun). Despite the changes, our blog format will stay basically the same. We will still write regular reviews and (hopefully) some opinion pieces.
Lets get to the todays album now.
MGMT were the “it” band of 2008 and managed to pick up a lot of fans from the pop side of music. Songs like ‘Kids’ and ‘Electric Feel’ were perfect examples of clever and catchy singles. They must have hated the hype they were getting, because with their second album they have decided to make an experimental side bereft of potential singles.
I’m not complaining though. MGMT have made an interesting piece of music that needs to be listened to multiple times for ultimate effect, it’s definitely a grower. One criticism of the album I do have is the artwork, it doesn’t do anything for me at all. People may disagree with me, but really, rip-offs of sonic the hedgehog aren’t cool. It really doesn’t affect the album musically (obviously), but as an album lover, the package does count for something and the most important piece of the overall package (whether it be cd or vinyl) is the album artwork.
Despite “Congratulations” lack of singles, there are still some brilliant songs, ‘Syberian Breaks’ comes to mind, but the real stand-out of “Congratulations” is ‘Brian Eno’, a desperate sounding tribute to a hero of the band. It’s the most energetic song on the album and has some great lyrics, my personal favourite is “I followed the sounds to a cathedral, imagine my surprise to find that they were produced by Brian Eno”.
Another highlight on the album is ‘Flash Delirium’, it was released for download for free a month before the albums release and was also given to a few selected radio stations for airplay, triple j was one of these stations. It’s the song that most resembles a pop song, but it still takes the listener on a journey through the track, it has multiple ideas and concepts being played with and they are made to link up with each other, which really sets the song out from the regular pop song format.
I won’t dwell to much on the singular songs, as I do not think they alone make the album the piece of art that it is. The strength of “congratulations” comes from the diverse and plentiful concepts and ideas that the album holds. Most of the songs can be broken up in to many movements and if the band wanted to be extremely pretentious they could have released the album with 30 tracks instead of the nine they ended up having.
I know I said I would talk about the songs anymore, but I can’t write this review without mentioning the closing title track. It is the perfect ending and is an intentionally simple song that allows the listener to get back to the real world and some kind of regularity.
The songs on “Congratulations” are journeys and should be treated as such. There’s absolutely no point in trying to find songs similar to ‘Kids’ on this album, and if you do, you’ll ultimately be disappointed and in my opinion miss out on hearing a really good piece of experimental music.
Reviewer’s Pick: “Brian Eno”
Stand-out Tracks: “Syberian Breakst”, “Brian Eno”, “Congratulation”