MGMT’s new album Congratulations, an experimentaldeparture from their poppier 2007 debut, hit the No. 2 slot on the Billboard Top 200 chart this week, second to only Justin Bieber.
The risk-taking release, which features 12-minute-plus epics and odes to obscure cult heroes like Television Personalities frontman Dan Treacy, sold 66,000 copies in its first week, a career best for the former SPIN cover boys, whose previous album Oracular Spectacular — the source of ubiquitous radio hits like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” — never sold more than 17,000 in a week and topped out at No. 38, Billboard reports.
MGMT — who join Ke$ha, Usher, Coheed and Cambria, Monica, and Lady Antebellum in the Top 10 — pleased Coachella fans last weekend with a set heavy on new material. Songs like “It’s Working,” “Brian Eno,” and “I Found a Whistle” were all well received. But the show was also notable for what the band omitted: “Kids,” the turbo-catchy dance song that made them famous, the sound of which founders Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser are now moving away from.
In SPIN’s review of Congratulations, Music Editor Charles Aaron wrote that MGMT “may have concocted the most playfully artful bad-trip pop album since the Monkees’ 1968 soundtrack Head” and praised its “mischievous energy…. For a series of druggy Dada setpieces, it feels uncommonly, emotionally honest.”
The chart-topping triumph follows yet another step into the mainstream — a 2009 Grammy nod for Best New Artist. Though the statue ultimately went to the Zac Brown Band, VanWyngarden said in an interview with SPIN.com: “It was really, really unexpected and just crazy. I’m just glad that they want to recognize a stranger band.”