mogwai, a forerunner in the "post rock" genre (i guess put simply, long, orchestral sweeping spans of songs like movements, generally without vocals...mogwai are known for walls of sound and are very good at that) just put out a new record (mr beast) with, get this: VOCALS!
how do you guys feel about this, or their other records? i think ep+2 and come on die young are still in my top 20 favorites.
i had a run-in with stuart at a show in los angeles once...and i've fallen asleep at one of their shows i think i've seen them like, 7 times or something!
I find them quite overrated, predictable, and pretentious, but I do enjoy their music sometimes. And I've enjoyed their past songs with vocals, so hopefully this'll be good. Rock Action is my favorite out of their albums I own.
^that's what i'm saying ! this new album is like, 75% songs with lyrics or something. i really like to listen to this band when i'm putzing around the house cleaning, or studying, or something else where i'm not listening to it completely. they do put on an amazing live show though, and despite falling asleep (i had been up since 4am, worked 8 hours and then had driven 5 hours for the show. i was driving home that night too!) i was pretty much captivated the entire time.
anyway, i would definitely not call this record their best work, and the guy from pitchfork agrees with me:
The longest song on Mr. Beast, Mogwai's fifth studio album, runs 5:46. The entire LP clocks under 45 minutes. Ordinarily, this isn't the kind of thing you'd bother pointing out in a record review, but it bears mentioning because Mogwai are typically at their best when they let their music breathe, ebb, flow, and stretch, rather than constrict it or force it into smaller boxes. Their first and still greatest album, Young Team, showed no compunction regarding songs that extended beyond 10 minutes to make their point, and on that scale, they made the best points of their career. Last year's phenomenal BBC Sessions disc drove this home even further. Simply put, restraint does not become them.
Unfortunately, restraint is a major point of order on Mr. Beast, as it has been to varying degrees on their past few studio efforts. Though the record is at no loss for power, it mostly stores it as unrealized potential: This doesn't sound like the same Mogwai that flattens audiences and then asks if the show was loud enough. Opener "Auto Rock" begins with a quiet piano that gains intensity as other instruments join in, phaser and distorted guitar rising like dust as the volume grows. The drumbeat verges on childlike-- a simple whack on every beat and no embellishment of any kind. But after building for just over four minutes, and then coming to an unremarkable close, it fails to leave much of an impression.
The album recovers somewhat with "Glasgow Mega-Snake", which economically distills the essence of the band's crushing live show into three-and-a-half minutes of gut-punching nastiness. Its buildup pays off with a wrenching tempo shift and vicious guitar riff that leaves behind a weightless groove, proving it's possible for Mogwai to sustain their intensity in bite-size packages. Penultimate song "I Chose Horses" gets a lot of mileage out of the juxtaposition of an evenly spoken Japanese dialogue (courtesy Tetsuya Fukagawa of Japanese hardcore band Envy) against a fluctuating, mournful backdrop whose guitars are nearly indistinguishable from its synths; the primary asset of closer "We're No Here" is its sheer deafening loudness.
The other vocal tracks switch things up nicely: "Acid Food" offers one of the album's most unexpectedly beautiful moments when a pedal steel enters after the second chorus, which is sung through a vocoder. But that song's aesthetic partner, "Travel Is Dangerous", is considerably more unruly, with two-part harmonies being doused by a wall of screaming guitar in the chorus. In combination, the two songs serve to remind that post-rock can come across as more sketched than fleshed when not properly unleashed. Mr. Beast's shortcomings lie not with what's present, but with what's missing. Mogwai are capable of tremendous beauty, poignant gloom, and ear-splitting sonic pyrotechnics, but only transcend when they combine each of these elements. Here, they rarely give themselves enough building room to conjoin these moods and styles. Resultantly, despite its peaks, the album is no match for Mogwai's best work.
-Joe Tangari, March 6, 2006
i dont see how they're pretentious. i'm pretty sure they're overrated, especially by people in my faculty who can't stop praising them when the name kappa won't even ring a bell in their little ears. but aside from that, i think they're pretty good, it's the kind of music i can only listen to at 4am but i love how most of their songs tend to carry you along until a point of climax and then abandon you in optimisticland.
On and off for me really....I accidentally saw them at this free park festival in London yonks ago..... they were great live....but I've never got round to properly listening to their albums - just a few songs here and there.
I like them but i never thought they had as much emotional impact as some other post-rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Slint which stopped me from coming back to their albums. I haven't listened to them in a while however, due for a reappraisal i think.