MGMT | Pop review

Heaven, London

"Hope you liked some of our new stuff," said MGMT's singer/guitarist, Andrew VanWyngarden, at the end of this show. There was a pause – then he asked shyly: "DO you like it? It means a lot to us."

VanWyngarden wasn't trying to generate the applause that automatically follows when a rock star deigns to ask the audience's opinion of new material – he actually wanted reassurance. His Brooklyn-based electro duo, one of 2008's big left-field successes, are preparing to test the loyalty of the million people who bought their Grammy-winning debut, Oracular Spectacular, by bringing out a follow-up, Congratulations, that contains "no hits, no singles", and promises to be closer in feel to the band's live show.

On stage, VanWyngarden and keyboardist Ben Goldwasser forget they're a pop band and start experimenting with key changes and effects in a way that exposes them as stoner musos. The reasoning seems to be that if a track sounds good on record, it will sound even better stretched to 10 minutes, and garlanded with psychedelic guitar figures. But this sole British show – a tour follows in September – suggested the new album won't be as hard to digest as MGMT claim.

The songs were complex and hard to pigeonhole, with tempo changes and genre-switching tomfoolery as standard, but they weren't prog-rock ambles. Wasserman produced Mellotron and harpsichord effects that conjured up Donovan and the Incredible String Band; Flash Delirium sustained interest by threading a synthesised flute through asymmetrical tempo shifts; It's Working made harpsichord and bongos feel like a natural combination.

There's also been a rethink about presentation: out with the lengthy jams, in with a rigorous trimming of excess. They squeezed 12 songs into an hour without feeling rushed. On stage, MGMT have become the art rockers to beat.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

MGMT, ICA, London

ICA, London

Tom Hughes

08, Mar, 2008 @12:07 AM

Article image
MGMT – review

The expanded stage version of MGMT were more interested in cosmic jamming than popularity in a set of head-wrecking polyphony, writes Graeme Virtue

Graeme Virtue

14, Oct, 2013 @4:04 PM

Pop review: MGMT, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Shepherd's Bush Empire, London The second of two packed London shows felt like a graduation to something solid and long-term

Caroline Sullivan

02, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
MGMT: MGMT – review
Brooklyn's psychedelic explorers go even deeper down the rabbit hole – and further away from their radio-friendly beginnings – and it sounds great, writes Kate Hutchinson

Kate Hutchinson

19, Sep, 2013 @9:15 PM

CD: MGMT, Oracular Spectacular

(Sony BMG)

Jude Rogers

07, Mar, 2008 @12:05 AM

MGMT: Congratulations | CD review
MGMT's second album isn't all mannered paisley – there are perfect pop tunes in there too, says Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

10, Apr, 2010 @11:05 PM

Article image
No 223: MGMT

Today, Paul Lester reports on a buzzy band that have the same spirit of juvenile dementia as Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips.

09, Nov, 2007 @4:16 PM

Article image
Reading 2008 review: MGMT

They prove that, on occasions, theatrical guitar solos can be as fun for the crowd as the guy gurning his way through it onstage. If the Raconteurs are reading - we said 'on occasions'

Tim Jonze

23, Aug, 2008 @10:12 AM

Article image
MGMT congratulate themselves on new album

The psychedelic duo's new album, Congratulations, will feature songs about Lady Gaga, Brian Eno and, er, surfing on ecstasy

Sean Michaels

10, Feb, 2010 @10:24 AM

Article image
MGMT, John Grant, Bastille: this week's new live music

MGMT | John Grant | Bastille | ReVoice! Festival | Mick Coady's Synergy | Les Vêpres Siciliennes

Andrew Clements, John Fordham & John Robinson

12, Oct, 2013 @5:00 AM