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Oracular Spectacular

4.3 out of 5 stars 250 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 22, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Forty years after the Summer of Love (and 30 years after the Summer of Hate), MGMT is celebrating the grand re-opening of the third eye of the world with Oracular Spectacular, an enigmatic and prophetic collection of hallucinatory sounds and hook-riddled Pop tones for the new millennium. MGMT is: Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, two psychic pilgrims whose paths first intersected in the green pastures of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, circa 2002. The pair was drawn to the music of other duos and found themselves incorporating the implications of the hallucinatory power-twee of the Incredible String Band, the roaring subway minimalist Electronica of Suicide, the silky Pop-Soul of Hall & Oates, the pulsing narcotic trance of Spacemen 3, the avant-garde Industrial romanticism of Royal Trux and much more into the constantly evolving sounds of MGMT. Columbia. 2008.


The term Oracular Spectacular might not mean much, if anything, at all--it's essentially nonsensical--but that doesn't stop it feeling exactlyright. 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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Time to Pretend
  2. Weekend Wars
  3. The Youth
  4. Electric Feel
  5. Kids
  6. 4th Dimensional Transition
  7. Pieces of What
  8. Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
  9. The Handshake
  10. Future Reflections
  11. Electric Feel
  12. Tour photo album
  13. Photos from the "Time to Pretend" video shoot

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 22, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: January 22, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 44 minutes
  • ASIN: B0010VD7EO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,116 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shane Carpenter on February 18, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD Vine 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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Format: Audio CD
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.
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