MGMT – Congratulations
Following their hit debut, Oracular Spectacular, was always going to be difficult. And lots of people seemed to find Congratulations a let down. True, it’s lighter on obvious hits than the last disc. But this album makes up for that by being an unabashed bit of hero worship. Every song is packed with musical and lyrical references to MGMT’s influences, sometimes making it seem more like a covers album than anything else. But the more subdued songwriting and an over all more melancholy sound (notwithstanding some outstanding chorus explosions) led me to love Congratulations even more than Oracular Spectacular. And live, it was even better.
Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)
Janelle Monáe is really cool. Originally given the nod by Sean Combs because her MySpace videos showed no flesh, and because she ‘sounded different’, her music is a combination of soul, funk and hip-hop and it’s 100% pop. She might be the new David Bowie. The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) is effectively two EPs on one album, both smoothly combined as single compostions and packing an incredible number of great tunes, inventive rhythms and intriguing android-themed lyrics. The album is produced by Big Boi and there is definitely a pretty clear Outkast influence on its sound… with is always a good thing. She’s playing live in Barcelona next February.
Wavves – King of the Beach
I don’t know much about these guys but I gather they’ve divided opinion among their target hipster audience. King of the Beach is just a great collection of surf rock songs played in a psychedelic mode. The album is essentially about being a lazy bum who smokes weed at the beach all summer. If that sounds obnoxious and sad, you won’t like this album. If, on the other hand, you think it reminds you of good times, and you like the idea of Beach Boys riffs played at quadruple speed with a ton of fuzz, you will like this album. The band is constantly shedding members (they had a disastrous on-stage meltdown in Barcelona in 2009), so I’ve no idea what they sound like currently. Either way, the record is cool. I might sneak a few tracks onto the New Year’s Eve playlist.