Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Out of step again…Mogwai edition

I loved Mogwai’s new one, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will even more than I hated Let England Shake, landing, for the second day in a row, well out of the mainstream. This might be my favorite album so far this year, along with Skull Defekts Peer Amid and Psychic Paramount’s II. Perhaps I am writing for an audience of me, I don’t know, but in my review, up now at Blurt, I said:
With Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, Mogwai is again aggressively tweaking its formula in ways that will offend purists, but which may be necessary if this band is to continue to satisfy its own curiosity and requirements for growth. The album starts in a shimmer and haze, in light-filled, slow motion "White Noise" which might sound like classic Mogwai if it were not so much brighter. The guitar effects seem less like murk and turmoil, more like the blinding glare off surfaces in sun. There's a transparency here, a sense of space and separation that continues, particularly through the first half of the album. It winds through buzzing, droning, pitch-shifting "Mexican Grand Prix," as close to pop as Mogwai has ever been, and distortion-bleached, drum battered "Rano Pano," and translucently beautiful "Death Rays." Even "George Square Thatcher Death Party" which sounds very much in the fuzz-crusted, over-driven vein of "Batcat" and "Glasgow Megasnake", incorporates the wavery robotics of pitch shifted vocals that bring it back to pop. A sense of play and melody leavens the heaviness in this seventh Mogwai album, especially near the front end, and if that's not what you want out of the band, too bad, that's what they're doing now.

The rest


Ian said...

Great review. Do people not like this one, though? It's definitely my album of the year so far, and although there are always surprises, realistically the only thing I know about that might take its place is the new Low in April. This is such a great album.

That being said, though, it did make me go back and re-evaluate the Hawk Is Howling, and I still think that's the only bad Mogwai album. I just can't get into it, "The Sun Smells Too Loud" and "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead" aside.

Have you heard the new Julianna Barwick?

jenniferpkelly said...

Hi, Ian, thanks. I think Pfk gave it a 6.6. Dusted was unimpressed. The Metacritic score is 77 out of 100. Pfk likes both that dreadful PJ Harvey and Cut Copy better (which reminds me of Erasure in a not very pleasant way).

I still kind of like Hawk, but I don't think I'm the kind of committed lifetime fan that you are, so maybe I'm missing the nuance.

And, no, haven't heard the Julianna Barwick. Is it good?

Ian said...

Yeah, I can't bring myself to care about the Harvey or Cut Copy records. I guess I'm not surprised by some of the reviews, but 77 on metacritic still seems pretty good. I definitely know a bunch of people who like Hawk the best, but I think that was their introduction to the band, for the most part. I've been obsessed since about Come on Die Young, so it's possible that I just have a different perspective. I wish I liked it more.

The Barwick is good, quite good; it's a little more varied than the EP, but it's still very much in that style, and she's probably taken it just as far as she can without hitting diminishing returns. I suspect it's very love it or hate it, but I'm in the former camp. I can pass it on if you'd like.