Like Scouting for Girls and Plan B, on Congratulations MGMT have taken a sudden left turn away from the route that secured their initial success, abandoning the psych-pop charms of Oracular Spectacular for a far deeper immersion in the murky waters of acid-head prog-rock.
It's a brave but foolhardy move, as is the replacement of their debut's producer Dave Fridmann – an expert at untangling strange arrangements into sleek songs – with Pete "Sonic Boom" Kember, once of Spacemen 3, whose talents presumably lie in a different direction entirely. The result is typified by the inaptly-titled opener "It's Working", a huge psychedelic soup of indistinct sounds and clashing sections, faults repeated on "Flash Delirium". "You can't get a grip if there's nothing to hold", they sing, perhaps unwittingly putting their finger on the album's greatest shortcoming. This tendency reaches its furthest extent on the disjointed 12 minutes of "Siberian Breaks", for which they barely bother to locate the thread that might hold the song's disparate wanderings together. Elsewhere, a faux-primitif tribute to the Television Personalities founder, "Song for Dan Treacy", suggests what The Libertines might sound like if they played organs instead of guitars, while the back-handed compliment to "Brian Eno" merely prompts the observation that if he had been involved, this wouldn't have been quite as shambolic.
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