Along with their albums, the Scottish rockers of Mogwai have also been making film scores between albums, and it shows. On their latest release, Mogwai finds themselves crafting a cohesive record out of parts score and intense hard rock, and it really holds strong. While not an album you’ll put on repeat, and not without a handful of moments that miss the mark, it works so well as a total product that you won’t mind.
The tremolo on the opening synths of “Coolverine” start the album on a shimmering hum, with the dynamic drum work to push it along. As the backing harmonies start to kick up louder into the mix, the track gains an eerie quality in its moody push, although its length will likely prove testing to people who aren’t already fans. Tightening things on “Party In The Dark” they blend their strong sound-crafting into a dense pop track. Through layers of keys and some brash cymbals, it all comes together for dynamic listen.
Flowing into the next instrumental, “Brain Sweeties” is a heavy but sunny piece that bears down on listeners with tribal drums. Across the thematic sounds that it crafts across its many synth players, you really see how much inspiration the band has pulled from scoring films as of late. “Crossing The Road Material” flickers with an ominous glow of guitars to start, as cries of distortion bring a theme and raw tone in as the band joins in as well. While still lengthy, the movements in the song’s final swell is so powerful, that the final three minutes fly by.
“Aka 47” takes a decidedly more sombre crawl, sounding like the backing track to an episode of Stranger Things than a standard rock song. While much more slow, it keeps evolving its sound, making its brief interlude a lot more enjoyable and digestible. As the drums of “20 Size” start to crash down, it already feels like you’re in the middle of a fireworks display. As the guitars start to roar along with a sort of keyboard horn sound, the song soars to a bombastic finale that my possibly blow out speakers in its euphoric fire.
Switching to more classic song writing fronts, “1000 Foot Face” floats along with the harmonic vocals creating a mantra push for the drums. While the song never reaches a burning finale, it’s overdriven climax is still exciting to follow. “Don’t Believe The Fife” does feel the most like a background score in its first half, not exactly grabbing your attention while still setting the emotions right. It’s the shredding finale that finds the song really going for it at the end, although there is a slight misfire in the overall heft to get there in the first place.
“Battered At A Scramble” starts on a rumble of fuzzy guitars and bass, with the minor themes falling in and out as the guitar drops the entire song into the hardiest band entry on the record. Like a snowball of destruction, the instrumental roll of the band builds and builds, feeling like it can’t be stopped until its final riff has rung out. Feeling like some extra loud Oasis, “Old Poisons” rips out with light psychedelic undertones to its guitars. Filtering in some Phrygians solo notes, the track is really one of the most frantic rock tracks on the album. Feeling like a sunrise, “Every Country’s Sun” booms with the grandeur and beauty of the sun, being both loud yet elegant in its closing moments.
Words by Owen Maxwell