Congratulations (album)

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Congratulations
MGMT - Congratulations.png
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 13, 2010 (2010-04-13)
Recorded2009
Studio
Genre
Length43:53
LabelColumbia
Producer
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
Alternate cover
Limited edition scratch-off cover
Limited edition scratch-off cover

Congratulations is the second studio album by American rock band MGMT.[1] It was initially made available for free streaming through the band's website on March 20, 2010, prior to its official release on April 13 through Columbia Records.[2] The album marks a departure from the synth-pop style that brought MGMT acclaim on their debut, Oracular Spectacular, released three years prior, and features a more psychedelic, progressive and guitar-driven sound.

Most of the songs were written by the band in early 2009. They eventually headed to a Malibu studio to work on Congratulations, along with former Spacemen 3 producer Peter Kember, known professionally as Sonic Boom. Vocal contributions from Royal Trux singer Jennifer Herrema were also recorded for the album.[3] Andrew 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]

Congratulations debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 66,000 copies sold in its first week, marking the best sales week for the band.[4] As of June 2013, it had sold 219,000 copies in the United States.[5] The album debuted at number four on the UK Albums Chart, selling 17,000 copies in its first week.[6]

Background[edit]

Speaking to Spin magazine on January 12, 2010, VanWyngarden declared that the album was finished, saying, "It's mixed and mastered, and now we're just working on presenting it to the world".[7] On January 18, MGMT stated that they would prefer not to release any singles from the album.[8]

In an interview with NME, Goldwasser explained, "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!" He also said, "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".[8]

Singles[edit]

Despite the band's pledge to not release singles, the album's lead single, "Flash Delirium", was made available as a free download on their website on March 9, 2010, before being generally released on March 23.[9]

"Siberian Breaks", the second single, was released on April 17. "It's Working" was released on June 26 as the third single. The album's title track was also released as the fourth and final single from the album on November 26.

Artwork[edit]

The cover art was done by Anthony Ausgang, known for his kitschy lowbrow art style.[10] The artwork depicts a hedgehog-like animal on a surfboard, surfing on a wave that is anthropomorphized as a cat about to swallow the creature. Commenting on the composition of the artwork, Ausgang stated that he tried to "use bright colors and get across ideas that are slightly dark."[11]

Release[edit]

Following an online leak, the band offered the album for free streaming on their official website on March 20, 2010, and stated that they "wanted to offer it as a free download but that didn't make sense to anyone but [them]".[12]

Prior to its general release, a countdown appeared on the band's website on February 5, 2010, alongside a webcam image of a beach. The clock would eventually count down to 12:00 AM (EST) on April 13, when the album was officially released by Columbia Records.[13]

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.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?6.5/10[14]
Metacritic72/100[15]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[16]
The A.V. ClubA−[17]
Entertainment WeeklyB[18]
The Guardian3/5 stars[19]
Mojo5/5 stars[20]
MSN Music (Consumer Guide)C+[21]
NME6/10[22]
Pitchfork6.8/10[23]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[24]
Spin8/10[25]

Congratulations received generally positive reviews from music critics.[15][14] The album holds a score of 72 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic based on 39 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15] Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot called it an "impressive step up" from MGMT's debut Oracular Spectacular and wrote that the album sacrifices accessibility in favor of embracing "the duo's interests in waving the Barrett-era freak flag".[26] Gregory Heaney of AllMusic felt that Congratulations "matches, if not triumphs over, their earlier work", concluding that while the band's "more dynamic approach to songwriting" results in a lack of obvious single choices, it nonetheless makes for "an all around better album."[16] Celina Murphy of Hot Press felt that MGMT "have achieved what they set out to do and you have to admire them for risking their successful hides for a walk on the psychedelic side."[27] Spin's Charles Aaron wrote that "despite being haunted by the group’s flip from rock-star charade to reality, Congratulations still brims with mischievous energy. And for a series of druggy Dada setpieces, it feels uncommonly, emotionally honest.[25] In Mojo, 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".[28]

In a mixed assessment, Rolling Stone's Will Hermes adjudged Congratulations to be "a hazy, hit-and-miss album that will likely alienate some fans of the debut, but one that also testifies to MGMT's restlessness as songwriters and human beings."[24] Guardian critic Dave Simpson felt that much of Congratulations "isn't bad, just baffling", but that its eclectic nature "has produced a sonic adventure, with lovely moments", singling out the title track as proof that MGMT "haven't entirely forgotten how to write a killer tune."[19] Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork deemed Congratulations "audacious, ambitious, and a little fried", writing that several songs contain "a surplus of ideas when a few good ones would have done... the less cluttered and more focused their tracks are, the better they turn out."[23] Robert Christgau, in MSN Music, panned the album as "airy prog-psych self-indulgence" that elaborates on the less memorable portions of Oracular Spectacular, and that "even as self-indulgent elaborations go, the follow-up's a doozy."[21]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Andrew VanWyngarden; all music is composed by VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser.

No.TitleLength
1."It's Working"4:05
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"3:54
Total length:43:53
iTunes Store pre-order bonus track[29]
No.TitleLength
10."Inbetween the Liners"6:35
Japanese re-release bonus tracks[30][31]
No.TitleLength
10."Flash Delirium" (BBC Radio 1 Session)4:15
11."Brian Eno" (BBC Radio 1 Session)4:27
12."It's Working" (BBC Radio 1 Session)3:50
13."It's Working" (Air Remix)4:31
14."Brian Eno" (Cornelius Remix)4:18
15."Flash Delirium" (music video)4:23
16."It's Working" (music video)4:09

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Congratulations.[32]

MGMT[edit]

  • Andrew VanWyngarden – vocals, guitars, percussion (all tracks); drums (tracks 3–7, 9); bass (tracks 1–4, 6, 9); synths (tracks 2, 3, 6, 8); Casio guitar (track 7); piano (track 2); fake flute (track 4); harmonica (track 6); electric sitar (tracks 3, 6)
  • Ben Goldwasser – synths, samples (tracks 1, 3–9); organ (tracks 2, 4, 5, 7, 8); piano (tracks 4, 8); Omnichord (tracks 1, 2, 5); numerology (track 6); additional vocals (tracks 2, 4, 7); percussion

Additional musicians[edit]

  • James Richardson – guitars (tracks 1, 2, 5–8; synths (track 2); Casio guitar (track 7); synth drums (track 8); glockenspiel (track 2); saxophone (track 5); panpipes (track 6); additional vocals (track 7); percussion
  • Matt Asti – guitars (tracks 1, 4, 6); bass (tracks 4–7); piano (track 5); additional vocals (track 7); field recordings and treatments, percussion
  • Will Berman – drums (tracks 1, 2, 4); guitars (tracks 4, 6); bass (track 4); additional vocals, percussion
  • Sonic Boom – master of ceremonies (unspecified tracks); modular synth (track 2); harmonica and percussion treatments (track 5); effects[b] (track 6); Gakken SX-150 (track 7)
  • Britta Phillips – additional vocals (track 1)
  • Jennifer Herrema – additional vocals (tracks 2, 4)
  • Gillian Rivers – strings (tracks 1, 5, 6, 8, 9)
  • Dave Kadden – Oboe, sundries (track 6)

Technical[edit]

  • MGMT – production
  • Sonic Boom – production
  • Billy Bennett – engineering
  • Matt Boynton – additional engineering
  • Dave Fridmann – additional engineering, mixing
  • Daniel Johnson – engineering assistance
  • Greg Calbi – mastering

Artwork[edit]

  • Josh Cheuse – art direction, design, photography
  • Anthony Ausgang – cover painting
  • A, B & C – collage

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] Silver 60,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Additional engineering
  2. ^ Jokingly referred to as the "first documented use of the EMT 250 reverb 'glitch'" in the album's liner notes.[32][33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Congratulations coming from MGMT". Triple J music news. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
  2. ^ Goodman, William (February 8, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: MGMT Unveil New Album!". Spin. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "MGMT take up surfing while recording second album". NME. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  4. ^ Caulfield, Keith (April 21, 2010). "MGMT's Top Debut on Billboard 200; Bieber Holds at No. 1". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Rettig, James (June 25, 2013). "MGMT Announces Third Album Details". Billboard. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Sexton, Paul (April 22, 2010). "Lady Gaga Holds Off MGMT On Euro Chart". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Goodman, William (January 18, 2010). "Q&A: MGMT's Andrew Van Wyngarden".
  8. ^ a b "'We're not releasing any singles from our new album'". NME. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  9. ^ Dombal, Ryan (March 9, 2010). "Wild New MGMT Song: "Flash Delirium" | News". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  10. ^ "Anthony Ausgang – MGMT". Ausgangart.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  11. ^ Dansby, Andrew (June 13, 2010). "Anthony Ausgang's work for MGMT shows bond between art, music". Chron. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Paine, Andre (March 22, 2010). "MGMT 'Congratulations' Album Leaks, Band Responds With Free Stream". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  13. ^ Wilkinson, Matt (February 9, 2010). "MGMT announce tracklisting for new album 'Congratulations'". NME. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Congratulations by MGMT reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c "Reviews for Congratulations by MGMT". Metacritic. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Heaney, Gregory. "Congratulations – MGMT". AllMusic. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  17. ^ Phipps, Keith (April 13, 2010). "MGMT: Congratulations". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  18. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (April 7, 2010). "Congratulations". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  19. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (April 8, 2010). "MGMT: Congratulations". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  20. ^ "MGMT: Congratulations". Mojo. No. 198. May 2010. p. 96.
  21. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (May 2010). "Consumer Guide". MSN Music. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  22. ^ Miller, Alex (April 9, 2010). "Album Review: MGMT – 'Congratulations' (Columbia)". NME. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  23. ^ a b Plagenhoef, Scott (April 12, 2010). "MGMT: Congratulations". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  24. ^ a b Hermes, Will (April 12, 2010). "MGMT: Congratulations". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 15, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  25. ^ a b Aaron, Charles (March 22, 2010). "MGMT, 'Congratulations' (Columbia)". Spin. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  26. ^ Kot, Greg (April 8, 2010). "Album review: MGMT, 'Congratulations'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 11, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  27. ^ Murphy, Celina (April 14, 2010). "Congratulations". Hot Press. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  28. ^ "The Best Thing I've Heard All Year: The stars pick their fave tracks of 2010". Mojo. No. 206. January 2011. p. 64.
  29. ^ "iTunes Store". itunes.apple.com. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  30. ^ "Congratulations +5 MGMT [CD]". CDJapan. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  31. ^ "MGMT Congratulations Back of Album". Image. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  32. ^ a b Congratulations (liner notes). MGMT. Columbia Records. 2010. 88697 45335 2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  33. ^ Doyle, Tom (August 2010). "MGMT". Sound on Sound. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
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  42. ^ "Lescharts.com – MGMT – Congratulations". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  43. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – MGMT – Congratulations" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
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  49. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – MGMT – Congratulations". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
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  57. ^ "MGMT Chart History (Top Alternative Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
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  59. ^ "Classement Albums – année 2010" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  60. ^ "Alternative Albums – Year-End 2010". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  61. ^ "British album certifications – MGMT – Congratulations". British Phonographic Industry. July 22, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Congratulations in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]