This Monday night, MGMT hits the House Of Blues behind new album Congratulations
, which has been getting one of the most tepid responses for a new album by a buzz band in recent media memory. The people that jumped on the bandwagon in 2008 after the Brooklyn-based then-duo released Oracular Spectacular
and killed every audience they saw at SXSW that year have been mostly shunted and confused by Congratulations
Its rash wave of experimentation standing in opposition to what the band was doing on the former has turned people off from the album, but not so much the band, seeing that the HOB date is a sell-out. Our take on the album is that, for the most part, it's not bad. If it came from a group of unknowns in day-glo attire and was picked up by a indie blog, it would be hailed as the best thing since OK Computer
or Merriweather Post Pavilion
(more on that one later).
It's decent and catchy, but not the digital piece of dog shit some more cynical critics are calling it. Rocks Off hears echoes of the Jam, Donovan and Elvis Costello, and those aren't bad influences to wear on your paint-splattered ripped sleeve at all.
What's funny is that after one album, one singularly fluky album with maybe four marketable singles, people thought they had MGMT sorted out. Take all of your favorite artists and see which of their debuts definitively exhibit what their mark would be on music.
Would you imagine that the band that did A Hard Day's Night
would be the same one to would make the White Album five years on? Of course not. Compare early Clash singles like "White Riot" with all six sides of Sandinista
, or Ian MacKaye's Minor Threat work to Fugazi's more esoteric offerings.
We aren't comparing MGMT to any of those, but you get the point. Congratulations cannot be the aural oil spill that it is made out to be. Yes, the cover art is laughable - the lysergic Sonic The Hedgehog doesn't convey what's going inside at all. That's a fail. But overall, Congratulations isn't a bad album, probably just a bad MGMT album.
Throughout the history of rock and roll, bands have made missteps either in the eyes of critics or fans. Early on Rolling Stone
magazine hated Led Zeppelin with a fiery passion and slagged of their albums, but the band and its members have been on the cover of more than a few times in the past thirty years. Tastes change, knives get dull, and critics take new looks at things. It happens to the best of them. Things grow on you; sometimes it takes a week, a month or even a decade.