Does indie rock have anything new to say? Probably, but you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise after listening to MGMT’s new album Congratulations, which sees its official release today. The Democratic Party in 2003 had better ideas than this turgid waste of money. The entire album sounds derivative of some indie standard or other—The Smiths or Pavement here, Death Cab for Cutie or Weezer there. The effect is that Congratulations seems more like a pastiche than an album. If MGMT had covered a bunch of Norse funeral dirges, the resulting album would have been better. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay for this. The whole thing is available for streaming on the band’s site.
You’ve heard MGMT before. 2007’s Oracular Spectacular was a commercial success, and popularized some of their best songs, like “Time to Pretend,” “Kids,” and “Electric Feel.” The former two had been on MGMT albums dating back to 2005, and have appeared in a smattering of TV shows and movies, from Gossip Girl to 21 to Alice in Wonderland, but no longer. “There definitely isn’t a ‘Time To Pretend’ or a ‘Kids’ on the album,” Ben Goldwasser, one of the band’s two frontmen, told NME in January. This is a bad thing. Those songs are two of the band’s best, and their absence is sorely felt.
Instead, we have a minor-keyed patter song about Brian Eno and an album opener that sounds like a parody of bad Pink Floyd. “Dipping swords in metaphors yeah, / But what does he know? / He’s got the whole world behind him, / He’s Brian Eno / Brian Eno! ” sing Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden on “Brian Eno.” Are these really the limits of creativity that we’ve reached? Thankfully, there’s always Pavement to cheer us up:
Bio: Kyle McAuley is an editorial assistant at Guernica. Read his last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1343/staff_pick_kyle_mcauley_6/.