Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

– by Jeremy Hunter
Mogwai’s latest album churns out another 50 or so minutes of spaced out slow crescendos. We’re lucky they do it so well.

My relationship to Mogwai is as more of an acquaintance than a friend, that is to say, I know people who Truly Love them whereas I have somewhat of a disconnected respect. So forgive me if I can’t reference this album too much in relationship to their past work. What I can do however, is tell you that this album is a good listen on its own, and has more than enough sonic gems buried in it to satisfy repeat listens for any acquaintance of melodic post-rock.

The songs are all colourful landscapes, each with a unique instrumentation and tone. Opening track White Noise is reminiscent of a slowed-down Foals with overlapping math-rock melodic lines weaving in and out of eachother. Death Rays gives off a vibe of vastness; if it featured a high soaring vocal, you would swear it to be a Sigur Ros track. And here is where, perhaps, the album falters; even with my limited experience, I recall a Mogwai of a few years back being heavier, grittier, and… well… stronger than what this album offers. The second track, Mexican Grand Prix, seems so full of energy with its relentless, driving drumbeat and synth line, yet the song never seems to really go anywhere. I recall seeing Mogwai at Splendour a few years back, turning the audience at the GW McLennan tent into a weak-kneed, ear-bleeding cult of True Believers who, at the close of an epic set, were still howling for more (well, at least I was). Does this album fill those shoes? Perhaps not.

But looked at from a different angle, this album is really quite beautiful, if not as intense and immediate as some of their other work. Letters To The Metro allows the listener to drift along on a slow-flowing stream of piano with a background wash of hihats for accompaniment. How To Be A Werewolf is a lazy track that cruises along like your first car around your hometown. And this may be where my lack of experience is useful: there is real musical gold in this album, but the emotions are of a different flavour than some of their previous work. Some might call it inoffensive and pleasant, whereas others might think it radiant and lush. I personally lean towards the latter, as this album conveys something subtle yet majestic, if only you let it work its magic on you.


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