Official release date: April 13, 2010
The Verdict: With history’s ugliest-ever cover art and an advance publicity campaign that had Ben Goldwasser apologizing for the first heard track, MGMT seemed to be preparing fans to hate their second album (which leaked over the weekend — stream it at the band’s official site). And a number of them do, apparently! What’s wrong with it?
MGMT have made good on their promise not to write any singles for Congratulations, as there’s definitely nothing here to match “Kids” or “Time to Pretend.” We liked the previously leaked Bowie-esque title track and the apologized-for “Flash Delirium,” but both correctly implied Congratulations would be weirder, more psychedelic, and less immediately catchy than the band’s 2008 debut, Oracular Spectacular. The fast, organ-driven, tribute-paying “Song for Dan Treacy” and “Brian Eno” are pretty great, too, but we’re not sure how many times we’ll listen to “I Found a Whistle,” “Lady Dada’s Nightmare,” or the twelve-minute “Siberian Breaks,” mostly hookless acid trips that recall the Flaming Lips at their least hummable. “Someone’s Missing” packs a chorus nearly worthy of the first album, but we hear it only once and not until after a full two minutes of nebulous tape-delayed vocals and synthesizer farts. So Congratulations is no Oracular, but anybody expecting it to be as bad as its cover should be pleasantly surprised.