After the smashing success of Oracular Spectacular, it was clear that MGMT were going to be at a bit of a crossroads when it came time to follow it up. Would they try to simply re-create their single-rich debut and pray that they avoided the sophomore slump, or would they continue to evolve? Fortunately for the listening public at large, they opted for the latter, delivering a follow-up album that matches, if not triumphs over, their earlier work. Always moving forward, the band has stepped out from the shadow of sonic auteur Dave Fridmann, producing the album themselves with the help of Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom. The end product is a sound that owes more to Phil Spector than the Flaming Lips, managing to be atmospheric without necessarily being spacious. MGMT have taken a more dynamic approach to songwriting on this album, tossing aside the dancing thump of “Electric Feel” and “Kids” in favor of songs that build in a more deliberate and satisfying way. “Flash Delirium” folds upon itself again and again, ramping up to a Wall of Sound chorus before letting loose with a big, glam/garage finish, as if to vent off any excess musical pressure before heading into the more subdued “I Found a Whistle.” This kind of careful songwriting tracks all throughout the album, giving Congratulations a more cohesive feeling. While this kind of musical vision means there isn’t really a clear-cut single, it does make for an all around better album. MGMT has matured as a band, and to show that off, they’ve returned by making the album that they wanted to make rather than the collection of loosely related singles that was expected from them. 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.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney