Oracular Spectacular is the second studio album by psychedelic band MGMT. The album dropped in 2007 and it contained three of their defining hits. The album is psychedelic rock and has an original feel.
The album starts out with the song “Time to Pretend,” which opens with a staggering guitar part that builds up until the two synth parts layer in. Lyrically, it is about the easy laid back life that children lead and wishing you could go back to that life. The song has a really easy, chill overall rhythm to it that will leave you in just the right mood for the rest of the album. This song puts forward the album’s first archetype of psychedelic verses that lead to poppy choruses
The song “Weekend Wars” starts off the other archetype of a big long verse that constantly expands and changes with stopping points to put forth those pauses and changes throughout. The biggest difference is that in this song, the vocalist sings in a very strained voice and, while I think it’s very appropriate, he actually catches a little bit of criticism for this decision.
The next noteworthy track on the album is Electric Feel and that’s where MGMT’s style really comes out in this album. Usually the only people who write for MGMT are the band’s two front men and the rest of the band just plays live, but this song is credited to everyone in the band. Consequently, the style of MGMT is shown in full, but also with a lot more improvement in each aspect and building block of this style without losing their original feel. This results in things like a better, louder bass part and a bass solo and it really feels like everything falls together exactly as it should in this song, which follows the whole verse chorus archetype I talked about in “Time to Pretend.”
The last song that feels like it really puts forward the whole archetype idea is “Of Moons, Birds, and Monsters,” which is my personal favorite on the album. The song starts off with the drum quietly tapping on the snare and building until everything comes in. The vocalist comes in singing in a very loud and energetic, yet still calm voice, “Why'd you cut holes in the face of the moon base?” and the bass does a very energetic walk that really lays down the ground work and feel of the whole song. After that it really changes a lot until it reaches a really beautiful instrumental at the end.
Lyrically, the album feels a lot like Cage the Elephant’s “Melophobia,” in the regard that everything feels really shameless and it was made just to make music, without predetermined ideas of what ‘artistic’ or ‘cool’ would be.
If you’re looking for a modern take on psychedelic rock, you can’t let this album go under your radar.
Musically the album follows two clear archetypes with all their hits following a psychedelic verse then moving into a poppier chorus and all their more niche songs going for something more like a series of slightly different verses. The archetype is done very well in almost every case though. It also generally uses the crescendo very well in a lot of songs.
In conclusion, I don’t really know how to rate this album. It is written well and everything it does is fresh. The only thing I could dock it for is that I could see people complaining that the lead singer overexerts his voice in some places, though I think every time he does it, it fits the mood perfectly. Overall, I give it an 8.7 out of 10.