Congratulations (album)

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Congratulations
Studio album by MGMT
Released April 13, 2010 (2010-04-13)
Recorded 2009
Genre Psychedelic rock, surf rock, neo-psychedelia, progressive rock
Length 43:53
Label Columbia
Producer Sonic Boom, MGMT
MGMT chronology
Oracular Spectacular
(2007)
Congratulations
(2010)
Qu'est-ce que c'est la vie, chaton?
(2010)
Singles from Congratulations
  1. "Flash Delirium"
    Released: March 23, 2010
  2. "Siberian Breaks"
    Released: April 17, 2010
  3. "It's Working"
    Released: June 26, 2010
  4. "Congratulations"
    Released: November 26, 2010
Limited edition cover
A limited edition CD was issued with a scratch cover and a coin. When the picture on the front cover is scratched off it reveals a photo collage of the group (pictured above).

Congratulations is the second major label studio album by American psychedelic rock band MGMT,[1] released on April 13, 2010.[2] The album is a departure from the synthpop style that first brought the band acclaim on their major label debut, Oracular Spectacular, and features a more progressive, guitar-driven sound.

Album Cover[edit]

The album depicts a chimpanzee surfing out of a mouth of an icy wave in a shape of a Fox's head.

History[edit]

MGMT began writing the tracks that would ultimately appear on Congratulations in early 2009 in a "Heaven". They eventually headed to a Malibu studio to work on the album with producer Pete Kember, ex-member of Spacemen 3, where vocal contributions from Royal Trux singer Jennifer Herrema were also recorded for the album.[3] VanWyngarden has stated that the album is influenced by the band's massive rise in popularity since Oracular Spectacular's release. "It's us trying to deal with all the craziness that's been going on since our last album took off. Sometimes it just doesn't feel natural".[3]

On January 12, 2010, Andrew Van Wyngarden declared the album finished in an interview on the Spin Magazine website, saying: "It's mixed and mastered, and now we're just working on presenting it to the world".[4] On January 18, MGMT stated that they would prefer not to release any singles from the album.[5] In an interview with NME, they explained their reasoning behind it—that it's meant to be a complete body of songs rather than an album with standout singles. "We'd rather people hear the whole album as an album and see what tracks jump out rather than the ones that get played on the radio – if anything gets played on the radio!" Goldwasser explained. He added: "There definitely isn't a 'Time to Pretend' or a 'Kids' on the album. We've been talking about ways to make sure people hear the album as an album in order and not just figure out what are the best three tracks, download those and not listen to the rest of it".[5]

On February 5, 2010, a countdown clock appeared on the band's website alongside a short still of a beach. The clock would eventually count down to 12:00 AM (EST) the morning of April 13, 2010, hinting the new album would be released on that day.[6] On March 9, 2010, the band released the song "Flash Delirium" as a free download.[7] On March 20, 2010 the band made the album available for streaming on their official website. They also stated that they "wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn't make sense to anyone but [them]".[8]

The album went straight to number 4 in the UK charts, and straight to number 2 on the US Billboard 200. There were 66,000 copies of the album sold in its first week of release in the UK, making it the best sales week ever for the group.[9] In the 18 months following, however, the album only sold another 11,000 copies in the UK.[10] It was released onto iTunes with an additional track for those who pre-ordered the release digitally. The bonus track "Inbetween the Liners" consists of an instrumental outtake of a song called "Forest Elf" from the Congratulations sessions, with producer Peter Kember reading the album's liner notes out loud while the track plays backwards.

The cover art is done by Anthony Ausgang, known for his kitschy Lowbrow art style, his favorite song of the album being "Song for Dan Treacy".[11] On March 15, 2011 was released an EP of remixes of three songs from the album ("Congratulations", "Siberian Breaks" and "Brian Eno") entitled Congratulations Remixes.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[12]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[13]
Robert Christgau C+[14]
Entertainment Weekly B[15]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[16]
Pitchfork Media 6.8/10[17]
Q 4/5 stars[18]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[19]
Spin 8/10[20]
URB 3.5/5 stars[21]

The album received mostly positive reviews upon its release,[22] and a 72/100 metascore at Metacritic, based upon 39 reviews.[23] Andrew VanWyngarden has stated that "Siberian Breaks" is his favorite track of the album.[24] Pitchfork Media deemed the album "audacious, ambitious, and a little fried."[25] NME got a first listen of the album and described it as a mix of "frenetic, brief psych nuggets... echo-drenched mini epic tendencies" and some "classic MGMT". As previously indicated by its creators, the review went on to say the album contained nothing in the way of "Kids-esque pop singles," adding that "it instead delves deeper into the sprawling, psychedelic sounds that characterized the second half of Oracular Spectacular". The article mentioned that "Flash Delirium" was being considered as a taster for the album, which the band had stated would not have any singles released from it in order to solidify it existing as a single body of work. It should be noted here that over the course of 2010, the band did eventually release several singles and EPs with songs from the album. MGMT have described the album as "a collection of nine individual musical tours de force sequenced to flow with sonic and thematic coherence".[26] Writer Shelby Powell noted the group's homage to British rock musicians Dan Treacy of Television Personalities and Brian Eno, complete with faux accents in MGMT's delivery on a few songs. Eno, who is the subject of one of the songs, described the work as "very flattering", and added: "I appreciate the way they managed to make the song both fond and tongue in cheek at the same time".[27] Also apparent on the album was the group's discomfort with their newfound mass acceptance, with one reviewer noting that "the cryptic lyrics bemoan the façade of the pair's new superspectacular poplife".[28] What's more, The Boston Globe noted that "perhaps most telling is the title track, which closes the album on an introspective note. A relatively straightforward coda, the song ends with a gesture the album rightly deserves: the sound of applause".[29]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Andrew VanWyngarden, all music composed by Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser.

Congratulations[30]
No. Title Length
1. "It's Working"   4:06
2. "Song for Dan Treacy"   4:09
3. "Someone's Missing"   2:29
4. "Flash Delirium"   4:15
5. "I Found a Whistle"   3:40
6. "Siberian Breaks"   12:09
7. "Brian Eno"   4:31
8. "Lady Dada's Nightmare"   4:31
9. "Congratulations"   3:55
Total length:
43:53

Chart performance[edit]

As of June 2013, Congratulations has sold 219,000 copies in the US.[34]

Charts (2010) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart 9
Canadian Albums Chart[35] 4
Danish Albums Chart[36] 19
French Albums Chart[37] 7
Irish Albums Chart[38] 5
UK Albums Chart 4
US Billboard 200[39] 2
Scottish Albums Chart[40] 6

Awards[edit]

Title Award Result
NME Awards 2011[41] Best Album Artwork Nominated

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • MGMT – production
  • Sonic Boom – production, harmonica and percussion treatments
  • Billy Bennett – engineering
  • Matt Boynton – additional engineering
  • Daniel Johnson – assistant engineering
  • Dave Fridmann – mixing, additional engineering
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Anthony Ausgang – cover painting

Music[edit]

  • Andrew VanWyngarden: vocals, guitars, drums (3, 4-7, 9), bass (1-4, 6, 9), synths (2, 3, 6, 8), casio guitar (7), piano (2), fake flute (4), harmonica (6), electric sitar (3, 6), percussion
  • Ben Goldwasser: synths and samples (1, 3-9), organ (3-5, 7, 8), piano (4, 8), omnichord (1, 2, 5), numerology (6), additional vocals (2, 4, 7), percussion
  • James Richardson: guitars (1, 2, 5-8), synths (2), casio guitar (7), synth drums (8), glockenspiel (2), saxophone (5), pan pipes (6), additional vocals (7), percussion, electric sitar (3)
  • Matt Asti: guitars (1, 4, 6), bass (4-7), piano (5), additional vocals (7), field recordings and treatments, percussion
  • Will Berman: drums (1, 2, 4), guitars (4, 6), bass (4), additional vocals, percussion, synths
  • Peter "Sonic Boom" Kember: master of ceremonies, modular synth (2), first documented use of the EMT 250 "glitch" (6), gakken sx-150 (7)
  • Britta Phillips: additional vocals (1)
  • Jennifer Herrema: additional vocals (2, 4)
  • Gillian Rivers: strings (1, 5, 6, 8, 9)
  • Dave Kadden: oboe and sundries (6)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Congratulations coming from MGMT". Triple J music news. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  2. ^ Goodman, William (8 February 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: MGMT Unveil New Album!". Spin.com. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  3. ^ a b "MGMT take up surfing while recording second album". NME. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  4. ^ Goodman, William (January 18, 2010). "Q&A: MGMT's Andrew Van Wyngarden". 
  5. ^ a b "'We're not releasing any singles from our new album'". NME. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ "MGMT | The Official MGMT Site". Whoismgmt.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  7. ^ Dombal, Ryan (2010-03-09). "Wild New MGMT Song: "Flash Delirium" | News". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  8. ^ "MGMT | The Official MGMT Site". Whoismgmt.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  9. ^ "Justin Bieber, MGMT lead U.S. album chart". Reuters. April 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Rob (27 October 2011). "When bands fall off cliffs". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Anthony Ausgang - MGMT". Ausgangart.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  12. ^ "Allmusic review". 
  13. ^ "Chicago Tribune review". April 8, 2010. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 2010). "Consumer Guide". MSN Music. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  15. ^ "Entertainment Weekly review". 2010-04-07. 
  16. ^ Simpson, Dave (April 8, 2010). "The Guardian review". London. 
  17. ^ "Pitchfork Media review". 
  18. ^ "Review: Congratulations". Q (Bauer Media Group): 110. May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Rolling Stone review". 
  20. ^ "Spin review". 
  21. ^ Brunstad, Svein (April 13, 2010). "MGMT – Congratulations (Review)". URB. Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  22. ^ "Congratulations Reviews at AnyDecentMusic?". Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  23. ^ ""Congratulations" Reviews, Ratings, Credits and More at Metacritic". Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "Interview: MGMT — "My favorite directors are Werner Herzog, David Lynch and Federico Fellini. All of them do more far-out ideas in their movies…" - ARTISTdirect News". Artistdirect.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  25. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (2010-04-12). "MGMT: Congratulations | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  26. ^ "Columbia Records Proud to Release Congratulations, the New Studio Album From MGMT". Columbia Records. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  27. ^ Brian Eno, "The Best Thing I've Heard All Year: The stars pick their fave tracks of 2010", Mojo magazine, January 2011, p.64
  28. ^ Album Review: MGMT-Congratulations « The Planet says: (2010-04-02). "Album Review: MGMT-Congratulations". Planet Ill. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  29. ^ "MGMT's reaction to fame is a trip". The Boston Globe. April 12, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Congratulations on Amazon". Amazon. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  31. ^ "Connecting to the iTunes Store". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  32. ^ "Congratulations +5 MGMT [CD]". Cdjapan.co.jp. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  33. ^ "MGMT Congratulations Back of Album". Image. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  34. ^ "MGMT Announces Third Album Details". Billboard. June 25, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  35. ^ "CANOE - JAM! Music SoundScan Charts". Jam.canoe.ca. 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  36. ^ Steffen Hung. "MGMT - Congratulations". danishcharts.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  37. ^ "Top Albums : Les Prêtres se hissent n°1". Chartsinfrance.net. 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  38. ^ Published Friday, Apr 16 2010, 13:46 BST (2010-04-16). "Mumford & Sons album tops Irish chart - Music News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  39. ^ "Congratulations - MGMT". Billboard.com. 2010-05-01. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  40. ^ "Scottish Albums Top 40 - 14th January 2012". Official Charts. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  41. ^ "NME Awards 2012". Nme.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 

External links[edit]