On Hipster Puppies and MGMT's Congratulations

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“People hate success if they themselves are unsuccessful.” – A bartender talking to me about Kobe Bryant

Pt. 1 Hipster Puppies

This guy does a Tumblr featuring pictures of adorable dogs dressed up like people on Bedford Ave. He gets a book deal and suddenly the world is up in arms about how incredibly fucked up it is that the publishing industry is wasting their money on more blog-to-books.

It's a huge crime! Brooklyn votes to banish this man from any DIY venue, indie bookstore, or small coffee shop! This monster must be stopped!

I really hate to break it to you, but the publishing industry doesn't make most of it's money by putting out the precious literature you hold so dear. The real money is in puppy dogs dressed up like American Apparel ads, and even worse, memoirs by Sarah Palin. While I'm not really going to pick up the Hipster Puppies book when it hits my nearest bookstore, I'd like to think that if it sells, it's the lesser of those two evils, and hopefully a few of my friends can get book-to-blog deals to pay off their MFA's.

Pt. 2 MGMT and the hacks who cover them

I'm coming clean: MGMT constantly surprises me. I don't think there is any musical act that brings out the jaded dickbag in me quite like they do; I want to hate them so incredibly bad, but honestly, I can't, because after listening to their latest album, I'm pretty sure they're one of the only 'indie' bands getting it right. For instance, the team behind Congratulations: Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3 produces, Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux does background vocals, and both Brian Eno and Television Personalities' Dan Treacy are name dropped. Still, guest spots don't necessarily make music good; luckily, Goldwasser and Wyngarden seriously know how to write decent songs, and as I listened to Congratulations for the first time, I kept waiting for the album to start sucking, but the next track would always prove me wrong.

Though I'm probably not going to be uploading their music onto my iPhone anytime soon, I won't hate on MGMT. If I did, it would simply be because they have a bunch of money and I don't.

But this whole thing isn't about MGMT. I get this sneaking suspicion that in two years time, Congratulations is
going to sound incredibly dated, because Skalectroclash will be the
next big genre getting bumped in shitty boutiques and college dorm room
parties, so I'm not going to spend that much time getting attached.

No, this is about the people who make futile attempts to seriously discuss MGMT's newest album. Unless N+1 or some other writer I respect decides they want to weigh in on the sociopolitical ramifications of MGMT's latest, then I honestly don't see the point in trying to go “deep” on this album. Frankly, 55% of the reviews you're going to read about this album will be penned by shills with jobs that depend on keeping big labels happy.

But since I had ten minutes to kill, I figured I might as well check out this “debate” over at Paste.

After reading, I wondered where the debate was, and whether I had just skimmed past it. All I read were two opinions, with no back and fourth and no tête-à-tête. I saw a publication trying to have some sense of integrity or edginess.

They failed.

“But in between enlightened ramblings, the band interjects a refrain that bursts forth brighter than a July sun ('Someone’s Missing') and cues up psychedelic movements that wash ashore like the calmest of waves ('Siberian Breaks').”

Happy National Poetry Month, asshole!

And here's the follow up “negative” review: “Congratulations MGMT, you have made a truly ridiculous record,” he says, before calling The Flaming Lips and Of Montreal “great” and “experimental”, and labeling MGMT a “nightmarish amalgam” of those two bands who–I'd hate to be the one to say it–have sucked for over a decade.

I don't normally read Paste; I'm not exactly sure who does (high school English teachers, people who wear orthopedic shoes), but when I'm promised a debate, I want a debate (motherfucker!). I want the best minds of our generation to really tear into each other. I want somebody to convince me that the album in question is either totally brilliant or a total piece of shit — no matter what my own opinion is. I want to be convinced that low or highbrow, people are at least taking the time to present constructive arguments.

Instead, I get more reasons to cheer on the impending death of intelligent music criticism. Thanks!