Friday, February 11th, 2011
Too Raging To Cheers
Review of Mogwai’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
FacebookOne benefit of being a mostly instrumental band is that without lyrics, you can name your songs and your albums whatever the hell you want. It’s a perk that Mogwai have taken full advantage of over their decade-plus existence with their discography looking like a hilarious and fantastical collection of never-written novels, screenplays and comic books that usually have little to nothing to do with the sounds they’re attached to.
But I can’t help reading a little more into the title of their seventh studio album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, out Tuesday. No deep existential meanings, certainly, but I find it interesting that it would be applied to a record that is their most melodic and pop-sounding, least-hardcore effort to date and which rather than the sound of a band in any sort of death throe, is reflective of a veteran outfit rejuvenated and feeling more vital than ever. This latter point is not to be taken for granted. Their output in the mid-00s, while hardly without merit, often felt more like soundtracks than songs. It was as though they knew the quiet-loud post-rock formula they helped establish wouldn’t sustain them forever but exactly what should come next was unclear.
Treading water turned to swimming 2008’s The Hawk Is Howling, which came with significantly more focus and fire than its predecessors, followed by a searing live career retrospective in last year’s Special Moves and now, perhaps reinvigorated by switching labels to SubPop, their best effort in some years with Hardcore. To casual fans or just bystanders, it might seem like one Mogwai record is much like another and there’s certainly truth in that but more than any of their other records does Hardcore strike the right balance of atmospherics, melody and dynamics.
From the motorik-underpinned “Mexican Grand Prix” through the abrasive roar of “Pano Rano” and gently sweeping warmth of “Death Rays” to the singalong – if you can sing along with a synth line or vocoded gibberish – bounce of “George Square Thatcher Death Party”, Hardcore encapsulates a wide swath of sounds, styles and emotionality and does so with an economy that the band’s younger selves wouldn’t have been capable of. At no point over the past decade would I have ever written off Mogwai, but I’d be lying if I said I ever expected the sort of renaissance that Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will represents – it’s both the culmination of all their past work and hopefully a blueprint for many more records to come.
The Belfast Telegraph interviews guitarist Stuart Braithwaite while Pitchfork solicits a list of the music that soundtracked his formative years while Spinner chats with Barry Burns. Mogwai’s North American tour kicks off in April and hits The Phoenix in Toronto on April 26. The record is currently available to stream in its entirety at Rolling Stone.
MP3: Mogwai – “San Pedro”
MP3: Mogwai – “Pano Rano”
Video: Mogwai – “Mexican Grand Prix”
Video: Mogwai – “Pano Rano”
Video: Mogwai – “How To Be A Werewolf”
Stream: Mogwai / Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will
Lucky Soul released the video for their final single from A Coming Of Age a couple weeks ago, but they’ve now made the whole thing available to stream. Three of the songs are from the album but one is new and you can download album closer “Could It Be I Don’t Belong Anywhere” to keep. Of course, you really should have the whole thing – it’s brill.
The ultra-twee and ultra-adorable Allo Darlin’ have put together a North American tour in support of last year’s self-titled debut – look for them at The El Mocambo on June 11. Clash has an interview with bandleader Elizabeth Morris.
PJ Harvey will mark the release of her new album Let England Shake next week with a live webcast performance of the record on Monday, February 14, from Paris. It will start at 3PM EST at Deezer.com. And until then, check out the video for the title track from the record.