MGMT, "Congratulations"

90 Billboard Rating

About 30 seconds into MGMT's second album, "Congratulations," singer Andrew VanWyngarden asks, "How will I know if it's working?" Indeed, leading up to the set's release, the duo announced that the follow-up to its synth-pop-heavy 2007 debut, "Oracular Spectacular," would be a wild departure. The new nine-song album blends psychedelia with elements of post-punk, surf rock and even folk. The track "Someone's Missing" begins sparsely with soft guitars and sitar-like effects that echo the falsetto vocals before swelling into an easygoing funk jam. Cuts like "Song for Dan Treacy" and "Brian Eno" are surf-tinged and vaguely danceable, while the approximately 12-minute-long "Siberian Breaks" channels English cult group Television Personalities and features dreamy vocal arrangements reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel and the Mamas & the Papas. Despite its retro influences, MGMT isn't out of touch: "Lady Dada's Nightmare" is an eerie, instrumental nod to a certain pop star. So to answer VanWyngarden's question: Yes, it's working. --Lindsey Fortier

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