Let’s get this out of the way immediately. I don’t like MGMT. They’re bland psychedelia with an extra helping of bland for good measure. Their initial charm for me was in their EP with “indie rokkers.” I was able to get behind the workings of that song and the musical directions present therein. With Oracular Spectacular, they went in the direction of their song “Kids,” and lost my interest completely. Did their new album Congratulations change anything for me?
Absolutely not. The new album is a bust, with every song bleeding into each other without anything to distinguish them apart from each other. The first track shows promise in much of the same way as “indie rokkers” did, but the interesting sound pretty much ceases after that and the whole affair becomes the familiar psychedelic whining that we were given in the first album. The band has stated that this was a “no singles” album, and it shows. Here’s hoping they grow and mature some in their next outing. You can check out the “Oracular Spectacular B-Sides” over at NPR, where they have an advanced preview. The album goes on sale on April 13.
If you want something along these lines that has a more of a unique sound, you might consider the Islands’ Vapours.
You may or may not have heard about a little musical pairing called She & Him. It’s a folk band by M. Ward and my super-crush Zooey Deschanel. This is a band that’s always maintained a place just under my radar. Volume 1 was a solid album, but I found it slow and dragging in more than a few parts. Even the album’s single “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here” kind of moseyed its way into my heart with the speed of a teenager asked to wash dishes…by hand. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the album, because I did. It just didn’t appeal to my more “pop” sensibilities.
Enter Volume 2, which dropped on the 23rd. Having seen the music video for “In the Sun” I was anxious to hear how the rest of the album played out. NPR once again had a play-through of the entire album, and I finally gave it a listen. From the get-go, I was drawn in thanks to the livelier tunes and the tighter songs. Instead of wondering when a song would end, I found myself wishing songs would go on just a little bit longer.
I realize that complaining about the pacing in a folk album is somewhat akin to bitching about Pizza Hut pizzas having too much grease, but for me it’s truly the difference between a “good” album and a “REALLY GOOD” album. And folks, it IS a REALLY GOOD album. Even if you’re not that big of a Deschanel fan, I suggest you give the band a second chance with this album. Who knows, you might even tap your toes a bit.