Review Summary: Mogwai's latest finds the band with newfound ingenuity and energy galore. Here's to hoping Mogwai's mortality is more along the lines of hardcore's, rather than ours.
Grandfathers of post-rock, Mogwai, have had a tumultuous career of highs and lows. Pattern is, Mogwai will either floor on first listen (Young Team
,Happy Songs For Happy People
) or alternatively leave much to be desired (Zidane
,The Hawk Is Howling
). The pioneers’ most recent work displays Mogwai both drenched and layers and effects while dabbling in more minimalist pieces also, as Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
spans an impressive array of emotions aesthetics. This sensation is compounded when compared to the tepidness of their recent output. Mogwai’s ferocity on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
is evident at once, and the album lives up to its intriguing name. Immersive and intense, Mogwai’s seventh LP sets the bar high in early 2011.
exhibits Mogwai leaning their Scottish selves into electronic territory along with infusing vocals into a few songs. While not coming out of that experiment entirely unscathed, these steps towards the edge of the Cliff of Ambition (with never falling over) should be duly noted as impressive and ultimately successful. “George Square Thatcher Death Party,” being the most obvious examples of these traits, benefits from Mogwai cramming the syntax of electronic flavors into their tried-and-true post-rock sentence structure. Always, the vocals take a back seat to the instruments, and we must thank Mogwai for this because headlining the vocals would only serve to hinder the feelings of hypnotization and intrigue that the meticulous instrumentals deliver. Nevertheless, as previously stated, Mogwai’s leap ahead isn’t one without cuts and scratches in the process. More than once, Hardcore
is sure to elicit head-scratching moments from the listener. An audible “huh?
” dribbled from my mouth while “Mexican Grand Prix” played for the first time, a high-energy track two. The outlier is splendid in its own right, but doesn’t quite bolster Mogwai’s heavier aesthetic here.
Maybe that was Mogwai’s goal, though. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
seems purposefully unconventional at points, without being too forced or gimmicky-- a difficult trait to pull off. Be it the reverb-ridden intro to obvious highlight of Mogwai’s discography “Rano Pano” (a dark, nightmarish track that’s amazingly expressive for a mere 5 minutes) or the band’s tendency to add layer-upon-layer to an almost ridiculous degree at some times and strip the music away to nothingness at others, the oddness on Hardcore
feels meaningful and precise. Perhaps most affecting though is Mogwai’s passion throughout. Even in their lower points (of which there are not many), Mogwai spill their guts out through the audio equipment to abstract that feeling
-- be it of utter despair, of energy, but mostly of wonder and awe.
Besides a few hiccups, the seventh LP reveals Mogwai in the best shape they’ve ever been. Willing to open new doors, but doing so in calculated fashion, the painting Mogwai evokes on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
is their masterpiece. Whether they’re crafting a cinematic aura like on the aptly-titled “Death Ray,” performing the subdued elegance of “Letters,” or slowly escalating the Godspeed-esque ender “You’re Lionel Richey,” Mogwai is sure to awe listeners. On Hardcore
, Mogwai is clawing at the bars of the cell they’ve created for themselves with less-than-spectacular LPs lately; and with their intensity and fervency, they manage to break free of the lockup with what is easily the band’s best since Young Team
. Their age shows, in the best way possible. Attribute the diversity, ambition, and accompanying wherewithal of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
to sheer maturity if you will; but no matter the source, there’s no denying that Mogwai are back on top of their game, and in effect all of post-rock’s for the time being.