Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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MGMT

  • Oracular Spectacular [Columbia, 2007] ***
  • Congratulations [Columbia, 2010] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Oracular Spectacular [Columbia, 2007]
Like Vampire Weekend, only as synth-dance rather than indie-rock, they convert a quality liberal education into thoughtful, anxious, faux-lite pop ("Kids," "Time to Pretend"). ***

Congratulations [Columbia, 2010]
Old enough to know that irony stales on the tongue and dogged enough to notice when the songs peter out before the album is over, I'm less disappointed than the post-graduate pre-adults who were so tickled by the meta-faux hedonism of the Wesleyan duo's debut. After all, this airy prog-psych self-indulgence is merely an elaboration of the back half of that debut--the half I tuned out then but appreciate some now, because, even as self-indulgent elaborations go, the follow-up's a doozy. Last time they pretended they wanted to be frothy, decadent pop-rock stars. This time, with their best new one by far a praisesong for Brian Eno, they reveal that in real life they're wiggy, woolgathering dilettantes. Once they test the depth of the woolgathering market we'll find out whether they wanted to be pop-rock stars more than they knew. Given the tendency of unrecouped production budgets to cut into the royalties generated by one's hedonism, it's probably a good thing Ben Goldwasser's girlfriend is studying dentistry. A more reliable income stream than modeling, you bet. C+