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Oracular Spectacular
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91 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2008
I don't know who the guy is that wrote the editorial review for this album, but he is definitely out to lunch...

I never heard of this band, but I saw the album in my local record store and was intrigued by the cover art. When I arrived home, I immediately went to Amazon.com and listened to some snippets of the songs. They sounded good, but it's hard to get a feel for an entire album just by listening to 30 second clips. So I went ahead and bought the album.

I gave it a once-through. Then a second-through. Then a third-through... I've been listening to this album for about 5 days in a row now and it just gets better every time. The editorial reviewer complained about the variety on the album, but I believe that's one of the strengths. There's definitely something for everyone in this album.

I listen to a lot of indie-rock and this is definitely one of the top albums that has come out in the last few years. I rank it up there with Boxer by The National, Neon Bible by the Arcade Fire, and 23 by Blonde Redhead to name a few. Suffice it to say that this album is definitely in good company.

Now I know this album was released on Columbia, which means it's not necessarily "Indie"... But it was definitely crafted with the indie crowd in mind. It succeeds on many levels and it does so with flying colors.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2008
I havn't been fascinated by a NYC band this much since Interpol's 2002 release, "Turn on the Bright Lights", which revived the dark sounds of 80's British punk icons Joy Division. Similarly, MGMT's influences are all on the surface, from the early synthpop of Ultravox ("Kids") to Oasis's jangly guitar tunes and laddish vocals ("Pieces of What"). I even heard some Kate Bush. You can lose yourself in tracing the genealogy of their references, but you can also wonder at the musical depth of the deceptive simplicity of their tunes. Someone on the web has written that their music is like Marvin Gaye on ecstacy, and that really hits the mark: I'm reminded of The Klaxon's "New Rave" style of an effortless, senseless helium high, a rush of memories and premonitions, best expressed in a line from the song, "Future Reflections": "It tastes like death but it looks like fun." Is this a vision of the future? I don't know, but don't miss it, and turn the volume up, way up. If we don't know where this band is going, it's best to enjoy the Ride.
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2008
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've heard complaints about the "overproduction" of this album, but that doesn't bother me. After all, overproduction has a long tradition in rock going all the way back to Phil Spector. Many of the "progressive rock" bands, like Yes and the Moody Blues, specialized in multi-layered opuses. Even today there are bands that are heirs apparent to that style, like Flaming Lips, Polyphonis Spree, and Arcade Fire. This band does "overproduction" quite well, and they definitely put across the image of a neo-hippie, hedonistic lifestyle. Just watch their hyper-psychedelic video of "Time to Pretend" and you'll know where their heads are at, as they used to say back in the `60's. That leadoff track gets the album off to a joyous start, and even if you don't subscribe to the drug-culture lifestyle they seem to espouse (sardonically or otherwise - this song is probably one of the factors that earned them an "explicit lyrics" label), you have to admit it's a fun and freewheeling track. In fact, there's a lot of bohemian fun and loose song structure throughout this album, infused with some often "retro" engineering tricks. Another standout track is "Electric Feel", where they lay down one of the funkiest '70's-style grooves I've heard in some time. The energy level seems to flag a little in the latter half, but overall it's an enjoyable, if rather lightweight album, the kind you'll like to play on your car stereo on a warm spring day with the windows down.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Oracular Spectacular (2008, Red Ink) MGMT's first studio album. ****

The neo-psychedelia duo MGMT (made up of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden) could have released a classic album. They could have. In fact, for a while, it seemed like they had done it; the first half of Oracular Spectacular, their debut album, it seems like MGMT have crafted something perfect.

The reality is, the Oracular Spectacular is lopsided, with all the beautiful gems showing themselves in the first half, and literally only the first half. With ten songs, "Time to Pretend" through "Kids" is a whirlwind of influences and originality, cleverly warped into one body and garnished with some very impressive and astute lyrics. "Time to Pretend" sounds like a lost anthem of a generation, a mix between the rebellion against the status quo of suburban life, yet yields the tragic consequences of the "live fast, die young" rock mentality. It's an eclectic blend of alternative pop as well as 60's pop. The true anthem, though, is "The Youth," with its beautiful and minimalist approach, the gorgeous falsetto as MGMT ask an important question; "The Youth are starting to change/Are you starting to change?" It is a testament to John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" or "Imagine." The Beatles landscapes of "Weekend Wars," the disco beat and BeeJees stylings of "Electric Feel," and the alternative dance of "Kids" are all outstanding pieces. And it is on "Time to Pretend" and "Kids" where MGMT sounds at their most original, regardless of how well their influences play on others.

Despite all that, the second half of the album slips, starting immediately with "4th Dimensional Transition," steeped heavily in Middle Eastern and even rolling wild west approaches. "Pieces of What" fails to establish the hook it is looking for, and while none of the remaining songs are bad, they're certainly not what was promised in the album's opening act. Still, MGMT have proved that they are masters of neo-psychedlia, and perhaps a bit of time on the road will allow them to pen a few more ridiculously good tunes. (Time to Pretend, The Youth, Electric Feel)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2008
1st I downloaded this album of a torrent site and fell in love with the whole album so naturally I bought this record for my collection, enhanced must means its a totally different master then the cd version. The low end(bass) seems like it was cranked to the max and sounds distorted and indistinct from the mid. Great band and album, terrible vinyl!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I recently worked on MGMT's video for "Electric Feel" and it was the first time I had heard of them or of any of their music. I've worked on enough videos to know that if everyone isn't sick of the song by the middle of the day, it's a pretty good track. It was the first time I'd ever been on a set where everyone was either dancing (well, as much as you can dance while you work) or singing or humming the song to themselves. I liked the song a lot myself and was pretty curious to hear the rest of the album to see if it would be that good.

After listening to it, I decided that "Electric Feel" is the best track on the album with the rest of the songs being similar to an old, comfortable blanket to wrap around it. I think that the cover of this album is a very fitting image for the music on it. The rest of the songs sound retro but not in a disco way like "Electric Feel", but more like the sound of late 60's/ early 70's psychedelia. It's very easy to just sit back and relax while you listen to this. It's got a sound that you can either chill to or move along to if you so desire. I've listened to the album twice already and other tracks that stand out for me are "Kids", which sounds like early 80's electronica and "Of Birds, Moons and Monsters" which definitely fits my earlier description of 60's/70's psychedelia and in my opinion is a close second to "Electric Feel".

I really, really like this album. I'm gonna go ahead and give this album a strong thumbs up in the hopes that those looking for a new band to listen to will maybe check these guys out.

(As for those curious about the video for "Electric Feel", it's still in post-production at the time of this writing but should be released within the next couple of weeks. Watch out for it because it's gonna be pretty weird and cool.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2009
I recently received a turntable as a gift, so I was excited to buy a new vinyl record for my collection.

The vinyl record itself is heavy, it's not labeled as 180 gram vinyl, but it's heavier than the other records in my collection. Heavier vinyl is more durable, and some people claim that it sounds better.

The vinyl mix is supposedly "enhanced", and in general it sounds amazing, sounds much better than a tinny, pirated MP3 from a torrent (shh!). On certain songs, like "Kids" (last song on Side 1), the bass is pounding away, and it sounds a little distorted, and the vocals are fuzzy-sounding.

The inner sleeve has glossy artwork (lots of concentric circles on one side, and lyrics printed on the other side). ("Glossy" compared to the typical paper-y inner sleeve).

Buyer beware, a sticker on the outside says "Includes code for free MP3 download of this album". Yes, there is a code with the album, but the offer for the free download ended on 1/23/09 (it's February 10th, during the writing of this review). The expiration date should be on the outside of the album, to avoid getting people's hopes up. Or better yet, there shouldn't be an expiration date at all.

In my opinion, Oracular Spectacular is one of the best albums of 2008, the melodies are catchy, beats are great, it's just awesome synth-pop. I'm reluctant on calling it "indie" cause this is MGMT's release on Columbia, but it has indie aesthetics. I'd give 5 stars for the album, but 4 stars for the vinyl version of the album. It would be a great addition to any vinyl record collection!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
MGMT has garnered a lot of music press hype over the past year, leading up to the release of their major label debut, "Oracular Spectacular". The knee-jerk reaction to all of this publicity would be to label this duo as Critics' Flavor of The Month and then quickly discard them. However, the album succeeds as very listenable album that upbeat, quirky and oftentimes a lot of fun as well.

This Brooklyn duo grabs their influence from the entire alt-hipster spectrum. The psychedelia of The Flaming Lips (courtesy of producer Dave Fridmann), the wink-wink humor of Ween, the full arrangements of recent Radiohead, electronic production elements reminiscent of Portishead and Gary Numan, funky beats worthy of OutKast and Prince, melodies straight from The Beatles and Bowie. Vocals are thin and spindly, often relying on a faux-Prince falsetto as in the current single "Electric Feel", sometimes trying for a measured rock energy a la T. Rex.

Whew - that's a lot of ingredients in this mix, eh? Yes, it is. And unfortunately, after several tracks, the line starts to blur between the result being inspired and just plain contrived. There's nothing really new occurring here in the reassembly of the source material. Again, not to say that the end result isn't thoroughly catchy and generally enjoyable, but will it be a must-listen material for years to come? Probably not.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2008
...then these guys are for you. You can read through all the other reviews for details, but if you've already got Sleepy Jackson's Lovers and One was a Spider, etc., then just pick this up. Trust me, you'll like it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Coming on like a two man Flaming Lips, MGMT layers stacks of distorted keyboards, psychedelic swirl and helium voiced lyrics to make a debut that aggressively courts your attentions, all while simultaneously making snarky comments behind your back. ""Lets make some music, make some money, find some models for wives," they sing, just before asking about shooting heroin in France on the first single "Time to Pretend." Catchy and subversive..which scores points with me every time.

Yes, they are smart-alecs, but the music has the goods to back them up. (Think also; LCD Soundsystem.) There are plenty of catchy songs here, echoing everything from the previously mentioned F'Lips to David Bowie's Heroes. They even drop the sarcasm long enough to write a good broken heart ballad, "Pieces of What." Throughout "Oracular Spectacular," the sound remains lush and full, offering up new details on subsequent listens. A touch more variety in the songwriting would probably make this a bit more interesting, but for a debut, MGMT have their mission statement in place.
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