Mogwai
Happy Songs for Happy People


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Jones is GOD USER (14 Reviews)
February 4th, 2005 | 37 replies | 15,955 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


4 of 4 thought this review was well written

After previous albums featuring more experimental and acoustic parts in, people were asking what had happened to the Mogwai they knew and loved; with it’s building up songs, and then screaming distortion. Some fans adapted to the change, whereas some decided it was just a passing phase. So with that in mind, mogwai decided to create an album that felt more ‘accessible’ than previous efforts. Whether this was intentional or not is not known, but this is what influenced the title (also considered to be ‘Happy Songs Or Happy People’ at first)

The album consists of 9 tracks, and as usual, each present a different mood. However, the difference in song moods on this album is more noticeable than any previous effort. Think pieces of music like ‘The Four Seasons’ And ‘The Planets’, and the way they paint a picture and mood, and that what Mogwai attempted with this.

Hunted by a Freak is a simple finger picked guitar song for all of a few seconds, then other effects are thrown in, along with a vocal melody, which as usual, is mixed into submission so any actual vocals are inaudible, and all that’s left is the nice melody. The drums get the song’s tempo up in places, but this song stays consistent to the same pattern throughout. A very calming, upbeat at times, mood to this song, and a great opening track.

Moses? I amn’t changes mood entirely. Its dark and menacing, using what sounds like brass and string sections playing the droaning background song. A drum machine and other Mogwai-esque effects appear at random intervals, but it’s all about the droaning sound in this one.

Kids Will Be Skeletons feels like the sun breaking through the clouds. Once again, at the heart of the song is a simple formula, this time being the 3 harmonics played over and over with slight variations, while everything else builds up around them. It’s also the first song where the guitar parts take centre stage, although they are accompanied by more effects, yet not overpowered. Another calming track.

Killing All The Flies comes in slow and solemnly. Again, the vocal effects are back, but they really do feel more suited to the part of a vocalist this time, they way they guide the song through. It’s a downbeat mood on offer here, but half way through it starts picking up the tempo, and builds up. Then the distortion kicks in and all the old Mogwai fans come flooding back. It may be short, but the Mogwai formula of old is present here, albeit abridged, as the song is only just over 4 minutes long.

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep Puts the instruments aside for a while, and comes in with another droaning noise, although this has a slightly more upbeat feel to it. Then a different vocal sound appears, almost spoken word, yet again, inaudible. Its hard to pin a mood to this one, it feels like a determination song, but there is the air of depression to it to. It changes for me each time I hear it.

Ratts Of The Capital is arguably the best song on the album, and Mogwai’s best song for a while. It is guitar driven, with the bass also taking more of the spotlight here, building up with some nice clean work, and produces a happy sound for most of the song. The same riff after a while is repeated with mild variations, and the drums take the song further and further up in tempo and dynamics. Then, in a seamless and amazing way, one guitar distorts and the song starts to feel angrier. Then, the other distorts too and the song gets more epic with each repeated riff. At the halfway point in the song, the main riff stops, and a much darker riff is played, a menacing and angry sound is created from the unison of the instruments. Accompanied by the occasional high-pitched bend, the song stays at this point for a while, until slowly filtering out to the finish.

Golden Porsche goes back to the acoustic feel, although a piano is the leading instrument here. A sad song, with weeping sections and a slow steady beat lets the melody instruments take the song by the reigns.

I know You Are But What Am I? seems to pick up where the last track left off. The simple piano chord and note repetition is the early backbone for this song, then a drum machine effect bring sin the beat, along with the trebly melody. The song moves into a new territory at 1/3 of the way through, and bass loud enough to wake the dead, yet it fits well with the song, keeping it calm, almost like a lullaby. The last part of the song opens the toy box of effects once again, and the song gets into a Trip Hop stage of layering at this point. (Reminds me a lot of “Tear Drop" at points). The song then leaves with the solo melody and piano finishing off where it began.

Stop Coming To My House decides the album needs to go out with a bang. The main sound is hidden in the background for a while, with a drum and effect melody introducing the song. The background noise gets louder and more intense, like an incoming predator. Reworked strings give another sound to the mix as the song continues to build. Ten it erupts into a monster of a song, with various samples all over the place, but the heavy percussive lead part takes the centre stage. A piano can be heard at a point, but there is so much going on in this its unreal. The overall effect gives off a great uplifting feeling, and is one of Mogwai’s more successful experiments.

Overall, although the songs in general are around the 3-4 minute mark, they are successful short pieces that get in your ears, do the job and leave again. The longer songs still hold up their end of the bargain too, and the whole album is a lot more accessible to people than any other previous attempt.

Pros
Sounds a lot better due to improved recording
More here for everyone than before
Mix of old with new
An album done by proper musicians

Cons
Some songs are maybe too simplistic to get across a full effect
Short length to some songs on odd occasions cut off a songs mood.

If you have never heard a Mogwai record before, this may be a good album to decide what type of Mogwai you would like. Fans of all sorts of music, from Indie to Trip Hop to Prog will find something to their liking here. A great album.



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user ratings (562)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
libertine2020
February 5th 2005



21 Comments


I'm surprised no one has commented on this album yet. I really enjoy it and it was the first Mogwai album I bought. My favourite tracks would have to be Hunted By A Freak, Kids Will Be Skeletons and Golden Porsche. I enjoy most of Mogwai's other albums, but I'd say this is my personal favourite because all the songs except one are below the 6 minute mark, making them easier to listen to overall. Not that I don't like the epic 8+ minute tracks, but I prefer it when a band limits themselves to maybe one or two of those per album. Many albums just get to be too much to wade through when they contain a lot of long epic tunes.

Good review by the way.

GrApEfLaVoReDcIgAr
May 20th 2005



2 Comments


Where can I buy these albums? I can find a few of them, but I can't find "Young Team" or "Ep+6". The song "Stanley Kubrick" is just melancholy and alienating. It's pure genius. I wish to eventually own all of their albums, but they are so hard to find! Any help at all would be most appreciated.

Med57
Moderator
May 20th 2005



1001 Comments


I got this the other day...the songs seem a bit too short for post-rock really, which is the only complaint I have about it. I'd probably give it a 3.5/5 or so, but good review.

Adam Jones is GOD
May 20th 2005



113 Comments


Make sure you pick up Come On Die Young next then Med. This is one of Mogwai's more mainstream sounding records.
This Message Edited On 05.21.05

masada
July 31st 2005



2733 Comments


This album is a bit dissapointing, after hearing their stuff from albums like Young Team.

OrbDragon
August 15th 2005



152 Comments


Killing All The Flies is modestly amazing. I love this piece of music.

moaner
September 14th 2005



6 Comments


I enjoy listening to this album, but i think i shoudl hear some early stuff.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 25th 2005



2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The thing I love about this album is you keep hearing a track which you think is the best of the album and then the next one makes you forget about the one before it.

Favourites:

Kids Will Be Skeletons
I Know You Are But What Am I?
Stop Coming To My House

gaslight
December 28th 2005



46 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great album. Some people are down on it but I love most everything these guys have done on their albums. It does things differently which I think is good - what is the point of simply regurgitating a previous effort?

Personal favourites are Hunted By A Freak, Golden Porsche, Kids Will Be Skeletons, Killing All The Flies, Stop Coming To My House and especially Ratts Of The Capital.

Special mention should also be made of how cool the video clip to Hunted By A Freak was, haha.

Kage
February 25th 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is definately the best Mogwai album. I always just liked them until I got this; now they're really up there.

Classic.

Killtacular
February 25th 2006



1314 Comments


I heard this awhile back and I don't remember it being anything special (sans Ratts).

The Jungler
May 29th 2006



4827 Comments


Special mention should also be made of how cool the video clip to Hunted By A Freak was, haha

I'm not a huge fan of CG animation or even animated music videos, but I though that one was actually pretty touching, and the song is mega epic.

Two-Headed Boy
August 26th 2006



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Absolutely brilliant.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
February 14th 2007



4925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know You Are But What Am I? is beautifullllll. Mogwai is quickly becoming one of my favorite post-rock bands.

modernxhysteria
April 25th 2007



4 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I actually kinda love this album a whole lot. From the opening all the way to the closing, the album takes you through an entire array of emotions with hardly having to say a word, which is how true music should be. It never relies on speed, which a lot of people mistake for skill now, in general, Mogwai relies on building layers upon layers to make a song. In this album, Mogwai basically perfects that formula and makes each song memorable and exciting in their own ways.

shablaman54
September 24th 2008



281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

am i the only one who really really likes moses?

riobravo1023
November 30th 2008



274 Comments


I have a really hard time listening to most post rock, but this album really got my attention. Moses I amn't is one of my favorite songs.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 5th 2009



10194 Comments


Just got this! Love it!

Closing track is immense. The whole album is breathtaking.

Yazz_Flute
April 17th 2009



18740 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm loving this. It's a surprisingly easy listen for post-rock.

Digging: Anekdoten - Vemod

TricksterGRex
April 17th 2009



2087 Comments


Yeah the majority of Mogwai's post Young Team discography is way underrated.



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