Enough is enough. I'm finally willing to throw in the towel with the ridiculous farce that MGMT have become. In the space of just two years, they have gone from being the 'cool new psychedelic indie kids' to 'the guys with that Kids song from the radio' to 'those annoying fuckers that are just being awkward for the sake of it'... That last one is my own feelings on it anyway.
In the run up to Congratulations, the follow up to Oracular Spectacular, we were treated to snippets of information from the band, claiming that there would be no singles, that anyone who just liked them for Kids was going to be disappointed and that it was going to reflect their live shows more than their previous record. It sounded to me like the guys were trying to get themselves dropped by their record label in order to gain more creative freedom - though the album sounds like they've been allowed to do whatever they wanted anyway.
Congratulations leaked the week before last and instead of expressing disappointment as most bands do, they claimed they wanted to offer it as a free download - they managed to compromise with the record label and stream it via their site instead.
Check out the album if you haven't had a chance yet. Either via http://www.whoismgmt.com/ or any of the usual download sites. I'd imagine it has shown up everywhere by now.
I suppose I should clear up the fact that I enjoyed Oracular Spectacular. It stood out in the alternative landscape in 2008, most probably the result of the fantastic trio of singles that flooded the airwaves - Kids, Time to Pretend, Electric Feel. However there were many hidden treasures on the album too, I'm thinking The Youth, Of Moons, Bird & Monsters and more. It was a delight, and I also enjoyed catching them live - ask anyone who was at their set at Oxegen '08. Memorable is one word for it. A packed tent, set abandoned half way through... Entertaining!
But back to the here and now - they have systematically gone out of their way to be different. Awkward from a record company stand point, it just seems as though want to be seen as the rebels - one of the people, rather than part of the system. It's an almost childlike need to be accepted and loved isn't it?
You could forgive this if they were at least offering something inventive and exciting still, though the album is just ... Well... It's difficult to comprehend really.
Take the lead single, Flash Delirium. A hysterical mash up of sound - the track references damn near every influence the duo (eventhough there is five of them recording AND live now, they still claim to be a duo) have, from the Beach Boys, the Lips to the Beatles. And then as it gets going, it just ends. However the song does actually work. It's a little reminder of what they are capable of. Though the video, on the other hand, is just awful. Senseless attempts at being different.
The rest of the album, to tell the truth, is just a mess. Bar Flash Delerium, Brian Eno and It's Working the entire thing is just boring. It sounds like the backing track to a Sega game in parts, and the rest sounds like the cast offs from the Flaming Lips last record, Embryonic.
I tried my level best to like MGMT, though they have just made it impossible for me. Their off-beat brand of psychedelia has been done far better by their former touring partners Yeasayer, while the Flaming Lips and Animal Collective also offered more inventive showings of the same style in the last twelve months. Aside from the abysmal video, Flash Delirium is a brief reminder of what they can do but the rest is just a mess.
It doesn't come as a surprise to me that the record has been well received by the majority of publications (Q and Uncut say 4 stars, Mojo says 5) as they yearn to keep up to date with the cool crowds (Let's not forget that Room on Fire was hailed as a classic by the critics too only for fans to reject this!), though there is NOTHING new here. It is a poor rehash of what they have already given us, and in the clips I have seen it has not transferred over well into the live arena either. The duo were interviewed by Dave Fanning last night and they seemed convinced that people would come to think of this as a classic in the future - they have been blinded by the success of album number one into thinking that they are untouchable and have actually ditched the one thing that made the first record a success.
The mind boggles. And not in the way that they would like it to...