Mogwai
Rave Tapes


4.5
superb

Review

by Scott Murphy USER (14 Reviews)
January 17th, 2014 | 17 replies


Release Date: 01/20/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Elder statesmen of post-rock portray another example of their lasting radiance.

Last year saw eminent post-rock band Mogwai revisiting the medium for which their music is arguably best suited for, as they composed the soundtrack Les Revenants for the French television program of the same name. Translated as “The Returned,” the show’s plot details a town’s experience with the reappearance of individuals who had been thought to have passed away. This couldn’t be more thematically indicative of Mogwai: congealed emotions of sorrow and mystery lightly veiling the constant glimmer of optimistic expectation. Album number eight for Mogwai, Rave Tapes, feels like a progression from the mindset which the band presented on Les Revenants, albeit with an even more exceptional portrayal of their boldly subtle songwriting.

Yet, this wasn’t quite the impression that the video for the track “The Lord Is out of Control” offered when it was released at the close of last year. The song is certainly a strong one, with a swirl of post-rock and vocoder coming across as if the band had shot up heroine and then attempted to cover the slowest track on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. But it felt slightly discouraging, as if the band was insinuating that Rave Tapes would be an album largely and/or entirely indebted to electronic aesthetics. However, its role on the album is now overwhelmingly obvious, as its closing of the album is brimming with purpose and poignancy.

Context is truly the key element with Mogwai; the proper mindset is beyond essential. With the nine tracks that precede “The Lord Is out of Control,” having the aforementioned mentality brings out the brilliance found throughout Rave Tapes. Picture a maimed dove bearing the ripest of olive branches: what has come may seem bleak, but what will come has never shone more brightly. And with bleeding guitars, careful percussion and aggrieved but buoyant melodies, Mogwai creates and maintains this focus with a level of mastery that only a seasoned musician can achieve.

While the tracks are all worth dissecting on an individual level, the most important to focus upon are “Blues Hour” and “No Medicine and Regret,” as they crush the stereotype of post-rock albums tracklists’ thinning appeal by assuring the album remains engaging. The former is an outstanding piano and vocal ballad soaked in vulnerability, while the latter provides a tuneful highlight for the album with a jangling, trance inducing chord that feels like a distorted baroque harpsichord.

There is another track that should be noted though, but not for praise. While the songwriting on “Repelish” is still top-notch, there is a mini-sermon by a religious zealot decrying the wickedness of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” stating, for example, that a place in heaven cannot be purchased. Seeing as the credit for the voice is given to a Rev. Lee Cohen, it could perhaps be argued that this message is genuine, but even if it isn’t, it feels unnecessary. Besides, most music fans probably don’t want to hear inane critiques about such a highly regarded song and band. Still, to be fair, it seems that people were able to ignore the religious ramblings of Deafheaven (a band unquestionably influenced by Mogwai) on the Sunbather track “Windows,” so perhaps “Repelish” won’t seem all that problematic to some listeners.

This small blemish aside, Rave Tapes is a late career triumph for Mogwai. Each of the album’s ten tracks brings something forward worth celebrating and raising up during this year and in years to come. Though their influence is being honed and perfected by modern acts, these post-rock Scots don’t seem to be losing their grip on the torch whatsoever.



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user ratings (200)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Multifarious
January 17th 2014


97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This isn't at all meant as a rebuttal to SeaAnemone; I was planning on reviewing this today.

Pheromone
January 17th 2014


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review! I was really hyping this album when I first heard 'The Lord Is Out Of Control', sucks I couldn't find anything as good as that song on here. Pos still

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JS19
January 17th 2014


4413 Comments


Great review, even though I absolutely disagree with you. pos

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Multifarious
January 17th 2014


97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It seems as though most people around aren't digging this, which is fine.

I appreciate the kind words.


AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2014


7427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, I especially liked your description of 'The Lord is Out of Control.' The criticism of 'Repelish' is a little odd, though.

Album's rock solid, but I wouldn't go anywhere near 4.5.

Multifarious
January 17th 2014


97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I appreciate the kind words.

Repelish doesn't really bother me personally, but i figured I should address it.

What did you find odd about it?

Pheromone
January 17th 2014


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@Ali I think it was necessary, the first time I heard that I couldn't help but to laugh, It's definitely the worst addition to the album and many people have called it out so I think addressing it in a review with this positive a rating is a good thing

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2014


7427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It just seems that your criticism is based around the fact that it pokes fun at 'Stairway to Heaven,'
which to me is a little hollow. I'm not saying it shouldn't be signaled out - the song's proving quite
polarising - but like it or not I think most people can appreciate its light heartedness.

Multifarious
January 17th 2014


97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think that's fair. I mainly just wanted to call attention to it, especially since otherwise I wouldn't have had any negative to point out in my review.

zaruyache
January 17th 2014


7419 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

how could you not dig this

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snowbbird
January 17th 2014


213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I actually dig this quite a lot. I feel the instrumentation is simple, but at the same time it produces a certain beauty that is hard to explain (for me at least). I do think Simon Ferocious is a snooze fest and could have been left off the album. Also the vocal sample on Replenish is annoying and they could have easily found a better one. But all in all, solid effort.

ShitsofRain
January 17th 2014


5956 Comments


it's better than that ost

ti0n
January 17th 2014


1591 Comments


this is mediocre and the death of mogwai being any interesting

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fromtheinside
January 18th 2014


19166 Comments


rip mogwai

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jmnewcomer18
January 18th 2014


3408 Comments


Still need to check this and ost out

HeavyMetalSnail
March 30th 2014


59 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Honestly, Replenish is by far the worst song on the album. It reminds me kind of like that one part from GY!BE's "Static" (Chart #3 I believe) though a lot more annoying and laughable than haunting and eerie. Maybe it's the fact that it's a rambling about something so inane as "Stairway To Heaven" having satanic messages but I just can't get behind it.

The rest of the album is pretty good though.

scottpilgrim10
March 30th 2014


4444 Comments


okay album.



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