Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39
  1. Credit MGMT for refusing to rest on its major-label laurels, but directionless experimentation proves no substitute.
  2. They never fully reconcile this conundrum, but have nonetheless created a fine record, which, while distantly removed stylistically from their first, doesn't lose grasp of their innate pop instincts, channeling them in a more elliptical, silvery manner.
  3. Congratulations is no more impenetrable than the Flaming Lips at their most commericial, with Sonic Boom offering a bright, upfront mix that keeps the baffling array of omichords, guitars, sitars, synths, organs and FX percolating in dynamic, uncluttered fashion.
  4. Overall, MGMT's refusal to co-operate with the listener jars with the crisp and professional production – which, despite Sonic Boom's involvement, is more Van Dyke Parks than Spacemen 3 and leaves Congratulations sitting somewhere in the middle, not complex enough for the prats, but too obscure for the jerks.
  5. What emerges from such silliness is the pleasing sense that the duo had a blast making this record. Listening to it is also fun at times, but just as often it's damned hard work.
  6. None of the songs are good enough as growers or deep tracks to hold up the album.
  7. MGMT is like some nightmarish amalgam of those bands' [The Flaming Lips and Of Montreal] bottom-barrel ideas set to wanky synths, sometimes for up to 12 minutes (!!!) at a time.
  8. MGMT seem determined to break the mold they made for themselves, and while they deserve credit for trying, the outcome just isn't as much fun as the MGMT whose tunes could punch up movie trailers.
  9. Every track here has successful passages, but frustratingly, they too often turn out to be detours or trap doors. In general, the less cluttered and more focused their tracks are, the better they turn out.
  10. Cowbells and organ chords set the frenetic pace for this crazed and eerie take on surf music that namechecks the godfather of ambient in its punkest track.
  11. While MGMT may no longer peddle the kind of instant-pleasure-point melodic textures that propelled the band's most well-known songs into so many playlists, they're up to something far more interesting: releasing a major, mainstream objet d'art without for a minute fooling themselves that it "matters."
  12. They accomplished their mission. They made a record that doesn't have one radio hit, let alone a single and yet is stronger than their previous efforts.
  13. Despite its retro influences, MGMT isn't out of touch: "Lady Dada's Nightmare" is an eerie, instrumental nod to a certain pop star. So to answer Vanwyngarden's question: Yes, it's working.
  14. From the opening moments of the sublime "It's Working" all the way to the titular closer, Congratulations is an incredible follow-up from a band that is still maturing into some unknown entity.
  15. 80
    This is a wilful and lovably eccentric second album from a band who've had a sniff of being pop stars and decided they'd much rather be weird and esoteric, thanks all the same.
  16. 80
    Despite being haunted by the group's flip from rock-star charade to reality, Congratulations still brims with mischievous energy.
  17. All in all, Congratulations pushes MGMT in the right direction. Rather than resting on their deserved laurels, Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser challenge themselves sonically, creating a follow-up that will test even the most astute audience.
  18. 70
    The whole album is a spacey trip, and it acquires several listenings to be on their side. They're definitely not stagnant, but it's still a step back from their debut--not in time, but in appeal.
  19. With Congratulations, they attempt to not just keep it weird--which they've done--but to figure out how they can be in it for the long haul. It's a solid start.
  20. Their mainstream audience should flee now, but Congratulations is more than mere commercial suicide. Their perversity has produced a sonic adventure, with lovely moments.
  21. None of the songs hit as hard as Kids or Electric Feel, but there's also no filler (which is more than we can say for OS). Instead, the band delivers a consistent if self-indulgent offering of oddball prog-pop.
  22. Either way, therein lies Congratulations' biggest triumph: despite being every bit the sophomore slump MGMT damn near willed it to be, it leaves you just enough reason to stay interested in what they do next.
  23. In striving rather openly to set their sophomore effort apart from what they view as the critically acclaimed trappings of their debut, MGMT offers what is, essentially, an album of B-sides--a few bright spots strung together with half-baked concepts and monotony, in need of a lot less knob-tweaking and a whole lot more rewrites.
  24. MGMT have (purposely?) lost that instant magic that they effortlessly whipped up with those debut singles, and in trying to re-establish themselves as artists that don't need the commercial mainstream to survive, they've created a record that lacks any defining characteristics to call its own.
  25. Undoubtedly, some fans will be left feeling deflated, but this odd little sonic onion ultimately rewards those patient enough to peel the layers.
  26. This airy prog-psych self-indulgence is merely an elaboration of the back half of that debut--the half I tuned out then but appreciate some now, because, even as self-indulgent elaborations go, the follow-up's a doozy.
  27. Congratulations, MGMT's time-warped sophomore release, is a strange beast, a candy-colored acid trip set to music, and easily the most hallucinatory rock record of the year so far.
  28. MGMT's first long-player may have included catchier singles, but Congratulations is the better album, trading Oracular's deceptive superficiality for psychedelic grandeur. Of course, like all psychedelic things, that grandeur is pretty deceptive, too.
  29. Though understated compared to their predecessors, these songs are smart and catchy.
  30. There are nine tracks of somewhat forgettable spacey-psych 70's songs that are packed with confusion from start to finish. It sounds as if the band skipped a few pages, assuming that their immediate debut success would carry over with the risks they took for this one.
  31. Congratulations will, without question, be heard, and by millions. But as what--an all-too-familiar expression of post-fame disillusionment? a fearless psych-rock masterpiece? a shape-shifting tribute, both lyrically and musically, to retro influences?--remains unclear.
  32. Congratulations shares nary a sonic smidgen with Oracular Spectacular, instead existing in a netherworld where mod-era psychedelia meets prog-rock and where the ecstatic heights of the band's debut don't exist.
  33. The nine-song album aims for a more unified and introspective feel, a good deal darker, denser and less instantly accessible than the debut. Instead of concise singles, it more fully embraces the duo's interests in waving the Barrett-era freak flag
  34. The album's peppier tracks are front-loaded early, and even if the duo are capable '70s sylvan prog revivalists, the back end of Congratulations feels directionless.
  35. Listening to the new MGMT album requires similar preparations to those for a prolonged psychedelic experience: you may want to leave some time in your daybook for unexpected detours, and it'd be wise to erase previous experiences from your mind for fear that heightened expectations may not be met and mass bummerage will ensue.
  36. It offers one sonic reward after another, and the band remains as inviting as ever. It's the nature of the party that's changed.
  37. 100
    Brooklyn duo deliver shock psychedelic masterpiece. [May 2010, p. 96]
  38. The album evokes not claustrophobia but space and freedom: an exhilarating screw-the-consequences leap into the bizarre. [May 2010, p.110]
  39. It's a brave, sometimes successful, but ultimately flawed attempt to evolve and grow the band's sound. The one crime is a distinct lack of any memorable tunes, but it will certainly stand as one of 2010's more interesting releases.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 176 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 42
  2. Negative: 3 out of 42
  1. DavidM.
    Apr 14, 2010
    10
    What a grower of an album. Soon it will be drilling itself into your subconscious.
  2. FredericL.
    Apr 19, 2010
    9
    An excellent second album that will make the indie-hipsters freak out...Nevermind the poseurs! Definitely on the same level as great psyche An excellent second album that will make the indie-hipsters freak out...Nevermind the poseurs! Definitely on the same level as great psyche albums such as "Da Capo" or "Odessey & Oracles". Can´t wait for album 3 and let´s hope we have a second Metanoia-style EP in the middle. Full Review »
  3. DocGonzo
    Apr 13, 2010
    9
    Surprised at the tepid critical response thus far. To my ears, this is an incredibly cohesive psychedelic album absolutely brimming with Surprised at the tepid critical response thus far. To my ears, this is an incredibly cohesive psychedelic album absolutely brimming with excellent musical ideas. It's a great new direction for a talented young band. Full Review »