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.
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.
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
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.