Review Summary: Relatively inoffensive this time around, Mogwai opt to simmer rather than pop, and it's not necessarily the end of the world.
Surely nobody expected the year’s first significant post-rock release to be any sort of reflection on mortality. Surely, an improving economy, a happier society and the sparkling promise of another 8750 hours of life would invigorate the post-rock population of the world into writing slightly cheerier music. No. All that happened was a tongue-in-pasty-cheek album title, followed by a brooding 53 minute drawl slurred from a Scottish frame of reference. It's not so much a two-disc, four song sort of record, "Hardcore Will Never Die" is a lot more sensible than its peers in this regard. Relatively inoffensive this time around, Mogwai opt to simmer rather than pop, and it's not necessarily the end of the world.
Accessibility for Mogwai and their whole scene lies primarily in track condensity, and with the longest track stretching to a humble eight and a half minutes, much of post-rock's avant masturbation had to be circumcised from the bands repertoire. Not to say it isn’t enjoyable or intriguing, and shorter song lengths aren't strangers to this band. ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’ wears the Mogwai badge on its hazy blue-grey lapel proudly - 'White Noise' is a slow start that stands to part the sea for Mexican Grand Prix. After which, a digi-krautrock drawl unravels, it begins to twinkle and swallow those incoherent vocals like a pulsing newborn galaxy.
It’s an immediate stand-out track that sidesteps the melancholy following most post-music. The success of this positivity formula is anything but universal, however. 'San Pedro' pounds quite like a saccharine-angst saturated Paramore song, though it struggles to sound well-cooked. The atmospherics work to cover up this fact about as effectively as icing sugar on a burnt cake. 'George Square Thatcher Death Party', while a pounding and cathartic song, gives comical birth to Mogwin’s Law, and makes it glaringly apparent that all future discussion of the album will inevitably decay into the song’s use of autotune.
Drummer Martin Bulloch strikes to pop little pustules of energy in the rhythm he beats from his drumsticks, in the space of one sure pelt, 'How to be a Werewolf' bursts into a billowing and vibrant crescendo, blossoming and eventually wilting as it whispers seamlessly into 'Too Raging to Cheers'. The track limps through the back alleys of 'East Hastings', in the pounding strobe of some explosive guitarwork. Everything rapidly dissipates in the reverberating gristle of 'Lionel Ritchie'. Intimacy is distilled from these moments of bliss, and Mogwai seem to know their way around making coldness feel warm. ‘Hardcore Will Never Die’ doesn’t struggle too hard to resonate its audience. It sounds comfortable, and ultimately unaware of its own brightness. Simply catching it between its energetic bursts is rewarding in itself.