Counterpoint: MGMT – Congratulations

by Couch Sessions

Last week, Marcus Dowling posted a 3.0 review of MGMT’s newest album, Congratulations, which obviously got a few of y’all riled up. This week, we post a counterpoint from DC indie rock stalwart Spikefish/Indigo Son. Follow @spikefish on Twitter.

For more reasons than I can count on the hands of my future children, I have been waiting for albums that sufficiently take me forward while appealing to the musical purist in me.  I’ve searched for albums that sound indie enough to be daring while sounding credible enough to be trusted and admired. “Congratulations” to MGMT for crafting and recording such a release.  And “Congratulations” to those of you out there who’ve been running thirstily at the mirages other albums have cast (Broken Bells, anybody?) – your wait is finally over.

In a day and age when fans run to amorphous indie sounds because almost all the majors sound like Pearl Jam ripoffs playing 2 hour sets in dive bars where no one orders anything pricier than a PBR thus allowing Sierra Nevadas to age to the quality and taste of a fine scotch; who can blame them for heralding albums that only succeed in delivering a mood.  I personally am not one for mood music. Why?  Because to me its code for “it’s time we made another album so that we can pay off the debts and day care….and we had no melodic ideas.”  What DO I like then?  You guessed it MELODIES DAMMIT!!!!

I live by the old adage, that I should be able to turn your song off and be able to hum it.  And with a few exceptions of the last few years, that has been impossible.  One of those exceptions was MGMT.  Here’s a former indie turned major (with Sony) who has melody (a plus) and doesn’t sound like Daughtry (double plus). Their new album Congratulations, while a long ways from their in-bound pass, 2007’s Oracular Spectacular, is an incredible reverse slam dunk over both defenders – raspy sounding majors and bad flavor of the month indies.

While literally traveling the band’s recording sessions to a mansion in Malibu they’ve time-traveled their sound to the same location, just in 1968.  Elements of classic 60’s era west coast pop buzz, crackle, and ooze through speakers and headphones while subtly nodding to the technological advances we’ve made since.  Ring Modulators, cheese organs and subtly sped-up background vocals greet you on the opening tack “It’s Working” waving at you like an episode of Hawaii Five-0 on a High Definition Plasma television.

It’s so easy to screw up a concept album, but this album so brilliantly avoids those pitfalls by being born of parents who’ve done their homework.  Production quality and appointments are accurate and deliciously excessive at times (the opening of “Someone’s Missing” gets away with more reverb on a falsetto than any non-Bee Gees record made after the original cocaine era should).  With their chameleon-like talents, I have no idea which shade this band will take on next, but I really am glad they stopped on this color for a little while.

On April 13 just buy the damned thing…you’ll be happy.

  • Craig

    I prefer this to the other review. At least you aren’t babbling on nonsensically about there being “no competition.” The thing that I didn’t like about this review so much is that you haven’t really made reference to many of the tracks, just a brief mention of two of the first three. But I do feel an overall theme of “let the music do the talking on this one because it’s so brilliant” coming through, and I see that in reviews of all “classic” albums, which I like, because I do regard this album as classic.

  • Spikefish


    Craig, I agree it is a classic album. I really was shooting for a “let the music do the talking” vibe as realistically I felt giving any more “track based” references would be a little akin to giving spoilers on Kryptonsite. There’s alot to be found in the discovery of this album.

    Finally, I felt if I set the tone with my tastes, and why it hit me so hard, others can determine ahead of time the impact it may have on them.

    Again a brilliant album, indeed.