The term Oracular Spectacular might not mean much, if anything, at all--it's essentially nonsensical--but that doesn't stop it feeling exactly right. Here is a band that treats dizzy cross-eyed awe and a vast bounding sense of sonic weightlessness as their yardstick, jostling to surpass themselves on a track-by-track basis and aiming for the musical equivalent of performing somersaults in tye-dye t-shirts off the rings of Jupiter. MGMT seemingly submit this debut album as an application to acquire and even supersede The Flaming Lips' previously uncontested mantle as spiritual leaders of over-sized Technicolor psychedelic-indie with a soul, weird but not so weird that swelling crowds and even flirtations with the charts aren't a foregone conclusion. "Time to Pretend" opens and sets a tone for the record, producer David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) providing a familiar expanse for them to riff across with bull's-eye synths, massive drums and their twist on the template--retro 80s electro and abstract shapes, see Suicide and the Talking Heads for reference. "The Youth" is centred around a hypnotically looping refrain that recalls Pink Floyd and David Bowie, as interpreted by a mellow Secret Machines and the brilliant "Pieces of What" is Ryan Adams spinning through cosmos with classic Neil Young on his headphones. "Future Reflections" meanwhile stand on its hands on a line somewhere in-between XTC and Ween. Thrillingly eclectic, endlessly colourful and never predictable. It's all a bit ridiculous, but indeed spectacularly so. --James Berry
Review by Jason Lymangrover
When MGMT was asked by their record label for a list of their dream producers, with low expectations they sarcastically replied: Prince, Nigel Godrich, Barrack Obama, and "not Sheryl Crow." Columbia returned with Dave Fridmann, the producer extraordinaire best known for his work with Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. In typical Fridmann fashion, Oracular Spectacular is a glamorous mega-production through and through. Drums are massively distorted and shimmering keyboards are articulately layered as he takes the reigns, leading the duo through his daisy chain of onboard compressors, delay units, and whatever other mysterious studio gizmos and gadgets he uses to get his trademark sound. Expectedly, the 14 karat polish enhances MGMT's blend of psychedelic and indie-electro to a shiny sonic gleam, resulting in some of the catchiest pop songs to come from NYC since the turn of the millennium. The tunes sound classic and new all at once, paying homage to Bowie, the Kinks, and the Stones, while updating traditional progressions with flashes of Royal Trux, Ween, and LCD Soundsystem. It's a wonderful mess of musical ideas, ranging from the dancy disco thump and Bee Gees falsetto of "Electric Feel" to the gritty acoustic-based "Pieces of What," to the grimy synth groove on the anthemic "Time to Pretend." With tongues planted firmly in cheeks, sardonic wit is as abundant as Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser spoof the stereotypical rock & roll lifestyle with lines like "Lets make some music, make some money, find some models for wives/I'll go to Paris take some heroin and fuck with the stars." Despite the ever-present irony, the songs never feel insincere and the record is inherently strong throughout, making it a solid start to their career.