MGMT’s “Congratulations” offers new sound in band’s sophomore album

Last summer at Bonnaroo, I was at my campsite taking a break from the heat, humidity, clamorous crowds, and mediocre midday bands when the guy settled next to me unzipped his tent and shouted out a question to no one in particular, “Who sings that song that goes ‘Ooh, girl’?”To many people, this half-witted interrogation seems entirely too vague to merit an answer. “Ooh, girl.” Surely, that’s been in hundreds of songs over the years. Elvis Presley, maybe?

No, he must be referring to one of those late nineties boy bands. “Ooh, girl?” It could be anyone! However, a chorus of sweaty hipsters, myself included, responded without missing a beat, “MGMT.” No doubt, we had all spent more than our fair share of time in 2008 booty shakin’ to the psychedelic electro-pop singles of MGMT’s first major release, Oracular Spectacular.

In fact, we’d probably all danced our happy little hearts out together to “Electric Feel” (the song in question) during the Brooklyn based duo’s Bonnaroo set the year before, and it was entirely possible that we’d all be heading out for their late night set again in a few hours.

MGMT enjoyed great commercial success with tracks from Oracular Spectacular. “Kids” earned them a Grammy nomination, and “Time to Pretend” quickly became looped lobby music for Mexican movie theatres. What more could a couple of twenty-somethings want for their career? Apparently, they wanted to be taken a little more seriously.

I don’t want to allude that all of the fun has been sucked out of MGMT’s latest release, Congratulations, which dropped Tuesday. “It’s Working,” “Song for Dan Treacy,” and the poppy ode to legendary music guru “Brian Eno” provide the danceable beats on this album, but they’re still not as carefree what we experienced with “Kids.”

The twelve-minute composition “Siberean Breaks,” which eats up about one-fourth of the album’s duration, and ambient space rock melody “Lady Dada’s Nightmare” illuminate the new direction that sets this album apart from those of yore. And, for an album that the boys promoted as single-less, “Flash Delirium” is already distinguishing itself as the most accessible track.

Now for the judgment we’ve all been waiting for. Is it good? Is it worth it? Of course it is. However, if you’re only in the mood for fleeting beats, don’t bother. Go crank up “Electric Feel” and call it a day. But, if you find that you’re interested in checking out the more introspective side of MGMT, “Congratulations” may need to be your next musical investment.