Published April 12, 2010
MGMT’s Congratulations is officially out tomorrow. Though the album has been leaked online for a few weeks, Pitchfork waited until today to go on record with their thoughts:
“If you’re coming to the second MGMT album because you loved ‘Time to Pretend,’ ‘Kids,’ and ‘Electric Feel,’ there’s the door. No such moments exist on Congratulations. Hell, there aren’t even failed attempts at replicating those songs here. This time out, MGMT aren’t crafting pop; they’re Creating Art. The problem is that many of the half-million or so people who bought their debut, Oracular Spectacular, just want a couple catchy-as-fuck, ear-candy singles to blast in their cars or put on with their friends.
One possible response to Congratulations is that MGMT are having a real ‘time to pretend’ moment–that they’re willfully being weird, and either shrinking from the challenge of repeating their crossover success or clumsily aiming to prove their underground cred. But the simplest answer seems most realistic: MGMT are being themselves Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden wrote and released ‘Time to Pretend’ and ‘Kids’ way back in 2005. With a major-label contract in hand, they’ve never again written anything so radio-friendly.”
Looking back at Interview‘s conversation with MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden from October 2008, it’s clear that the seeds of this transformation were planted long ago:
T. COLE RACHEL: [Your deal with Columbia] must have had a lot to do with the Time to Pretend EP, which got so much attention from the music press. Can you imagine that your career would have been totally different if you’d never written that?
ANDREW VANWYNGARDEN: Yes. When the label people were talking to us, we knew that they liked us because of that EP. That’s all they had heard. They hadn’t seen us play live. We kept telling them over and over that we weren’t necessarily going to make music like that again, just because we were kind of over the ironic-pop-song thing.
RACHEL: That’s amazing. I know you guys are touring through the end of the year. Are you dying to write songs and make a new record?
VANWYNGARDEN: Yeah, I’m actually feeling it coming on–like I just got pregnant or something. I can tell I’ve got some songs that are about to come out. That’s usually how it happens–there’ll be a whole lot of ideas in my head for a long time, and then all of sudden they kind of spew out. I can tell it’s gonna happen soon, and I’m really excited.
RACHEL: I get the sense that in the very earliest days, when you guys first started doing this together, it was more like a performance-art sort of thing. You’ve come a long way.
VANWYNGARDEN: It wasn’t as thought out as performance art. It was just us fucking around–like you do when you’re a kid in your living room, but doing it in front of small groups of people.