This album, compared to most other Mogwai albums, feels like a continuous song at times. The album flows from song to song, linking well at times, and at others, youíre just so caught up, you wont notice the radical change to the next song.
The beginning track, Punk Rock
, is a simple scale played over and over while an archive interview with Iggy Pop is played in the background. A little strange, but for some reason, the two work together. Straight after that, itís into CODY
, and a rare occasion on a Mogwai album, there are vocals, sung by the actual band (in the past they brought in outside help if they did any at all). Even then, they seem to play a backing part to the main melody. A nice simple song, not exceeding a whisper all the way through.
Its then into another strange combo for Works Both Ways
.The music is calm and slow, but in the background, a commentary on American Football can be heard. Itís another strange combo that works well, but where they got the idea to do it is a mystery. The commentary continues as the music draws to a close, which links it into Year 200 Non Compliant
, a track that attempts to get louder and faster, but is stopped each time in favour of keeping the peaceful sound going. In fact, the album to this point hasnít shown any typical Mogwai traits.
, however, attempts to change this. The same idea as the last track, builds up, fades back, builds up further, and fades back. It works well, leaving you wondering when they will just let the song go. However, again they decide to keep the decibels down, and head off into Waltz For Aidan
, another 3-4 minute slow mellow song. Using a lot of guitar harmonics and slow beat, it continues the albums mood, although by now youíll probably want something to just kick in and blow you away. May Nothing But Happiness Come Through Your Door
does not start off as if its about to give your speakers a work out. The song is quiet and gentle again, but thereís an air of familiarity building in the album now, and although its not noticeable, its building and building with elements from all the previous tracks. The ending has a voice sample of a phone operator repeating until the fade out. Oh! How The Dogs Stack Up
is almost a novelty track. It has a reversed announcer style voice at the beginning, and then a piano segment with random background noises and string scrapes playing along till the finish. At this section, it feels like itís the second part of the album coming to an end
starts with the main bass line, and the other instruments follow it shortly after. Straightaway the song feels more up-tempo and progressive, like it is building to something bigger. The drums increase in volume and speed, and the guitars layer up. This song is what the album has seemed to be working towards, and it all really does kick off at last. Definitely one of the best tracks on the album, and at just over 8 minutes, one of the longest. That is, until Chocky
comes along with its quiet piano opening, and random background sounds. The piano leaves temporarily, but then returns, and the other instruments begin to play, building the song up, yet never doing anything drastic. A great example how Mogwai can take a simple progression and yet keep it varied with variations from other melodies. The main bulk of the album comes to a close here, and from here, itís on to a Mogwai classicÖ
is a song that all Mogwai fans will now or have heard, and is a live show favourite. When it was originally released, it suffered from poor recording and genuinely did not feel as strong as it could be. With this re-recording, everything is better. The build up keeps you hooked, the sudden introduction of the bass at 3 times the normal volume works even better, and the distortion tone is crisp and punchy. Its also now over 10 minutes long, but it seems to feel disconnected from the rest of the album. After it, Punk Rock/Puff Daddy/An Chris
brings the album to a close in a strange way. Voice recordings are messed with; a weird percussion and woodwind backing give the track its musical merits, and take the album to its conclusion.
This album is one that has to be heard as a whole. There are a few tracks that work well independently, but others suffer if not played alongside the tracks that precede them. For a Mogwai album, this almost feels like it was their experimental grounds, which is a strange thing to state, as their music as a whole is experimental. There are few moments where the songs fly off, instead it feels like the band are holding them back at times.
As an album in general, its one that takes some listening. People who donít normally listen to the more melodic slow building music will have a hard time getting to grips with it. Fans of Trip Hop, or anyone who listens to bands such as Sigur Ros may find it easier going, but itís an album that needs a full listen, then another before you can really begin to appreciate it.
Some fantastic songwriting
Simple, yet dynamic
The longer songs are really rewarding
Take a while to go anywhere
Different style of music, even for Mogwai
Overall, if you are a Mogwai fan, buy this before any of their other albums, or at least make sure you pick it up at some point. If you want to get into mogwai, but your musical tastes are restricted, avoid this one. If however, you have a wide taste in music, give this a go, free up a Sunday afternoon and let the music make the decision for you.