When MGMT (pronounced "management") was asked by their record label for a list of their dream producers, with low expectations they sarcastically replied: Prince, Nigel Godrich, Barack 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. [The bonus version is an interactive CD-R with pictures of the band and a video for "Electric Feel." ~ Jason Lymangrover
Rolling Stone (p.82) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "There are hints of Joy Division and Sixties nostalgia both acid-tinged and bluesy, but ORACULAR SPECTACULAR's playfulness and remarkable density are best displayed on 'Electric Feel'..."
Rolling Stone (p.92) - Ranked #31 in Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums Of 2008 -- "It's acid rock for realists."
Spin (p.51) - Ranked #10 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "[A] state-of-the-art party album."
Uncut (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "MGMT offer a series of rock pastiches so joyously over-egged that they become something new and celebratory. A sugary feast for the senses."
Alternative Press (p.115) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "ORACULAR is thick with countless layers of electronics, live instrumentation and vocal harmonies....It's brilliant."
Q (Magazine) (p.138) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] collection of ambitiously stitched-together genres, all massaged into punchy cohesion by Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. It's a bold debut."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.66) - Ranked #36 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "[With] wild reverbs, huge keyboards and slippery lyrics..."
Harp (magazine) (p.104) - "Filled with electro-processed recorders, mad Mellotrons, walls of fuzz and finely fingered acoustic guitars to go with MGMT's mystic mountain melodies..."
Clash (magazine) (p.67) - Ranked #13 in Clash's "The 40 Best Albums of 2008" -- "[I]t's raw talent that has kept MGMT afloat through 2008. Long may it do so."
The Word (magazine) (p.106) - "[MGMT] have clearly soaked up a lot of the sort of stuff that bands of their ilk exist for...but, rather charmingly in these dread-heavy times, they dress it all up in expansively positive pop songs that are, generally, high as kites."