Mogwai are a band who hold a special place in my heart, a truly innovative band who have released some of the most beautiful post rock music I have ever heard. Mogwai have the talent and ability to create music that provide the listener with vivid dreams in your sleep, songs that will haunt your waking hours and all with an ease that seems to be endowed with the gift of the devil.
However, recently I have found myself drifting away from the sound of Mogwai, mainly because their last few releases (apart from the excellent (but frustrating) Rave Tapes have been soundtracks.
Now, as good as their soundtracks work sounds, without the visual context they can sound a bit hallow and that has been a problem for me. With Mogwai, they work best when the images can be made in my own mind, with soundtracks the images are preordained as the music is made to fit the pictures. I know I’m being pedantic here, of that I have no doubt. However, the opinion of this listener is that music is best when you are allowed to explore that world yourself.
So, whilst they were make beautiful, but ultimately disassociated album for me, I awaited a return to their own work. But I have never lost hope that they would return, that they would be free from their visual chains and give the world a blank canvas. Which brings us to Every Country’s Sun, an album that I have long-awaited. So, they are back on home turf, the cover is beautiful, will the music match that breath-taking art work?
Over the course of 11 songs, Mogwai have managed to create an album which not only meets their own high standards, it also eclipses all their previous works.
In keeping with all the best Mogwai albums, “Coolverine” starts everything with a stroke of genius. It is a building, progressive shoegazing number that sounds as mystical as it sounds awesome, a piece that is without time or equal. Mogwai are on top of their game from the beginning with this one, which they follow up by hitting the listener with feedback, post rock attitude and wonderful noise with “Party in the Dark” is a shoegazing song that looks at the world in shadow and how things change in the dark.
It is a great piece, full of energy and it does not need to hit the distortion pedal for most of this. It reminds me of the sound of their album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (something that also occurs on “20 Size”) that picturesque record with a dark soul. This could have quite easily been released off that album, but they both still feel at home on Every Country’s Sun.
You do have the odd song which seems to disappear before its time is up, but that is Mogwai’s prerogative.
Take “Brain Sweeties” for example – with effortless ease, Mogwai unleash this dominant builder, this behemoth that crawls out of your speakers and attacks with subtle edges to the music. It is a great riff, one that pitches and falls with ease and is such a glorious little gem of a song. Then it ends before it started to really stretch its legs, feeling as if it has been cut off before the cycle had full completed. It is a great number, but I wish it had a few more minutes attached to it.
Not all material on this album is an instant classic. Arriving with feedback, low slung bass sounds, and a mid-paced drumming style, “Crossing the Road Material” is in no hurry to make its point, to be honest it is still one that I am truly ready to make my overall opinion on. It is a good number, one that is very rewarding and it is allowed to expand gently over a long period of time, taking the listener along with it and making the world seem like a distant shadow. But I am still trying to figure out how much I like it, it will probably be my favourite in a few months’ time. For now though, it is just a great song.
You also have a few songs which act as natural fillers, to give the listener a break. Songs such as “1,000 Foot Face “and “aka 47” reduce the intensity, but only so they can act as a contrast to those epic moments. You needed songs such as these so that other track like “Coolverine” and the epic “Old Poisons” shine like the stars in the sky. Each song has its purpose, each note has been laboured over and crafted to perfection.
My favourite of Every Country’s Sun is called “Old Poisons”, a song which sounds like the angels are singing to you directly.
Ok, that is a little OTT, but I adore this track. Mogwai are not slowing down with this album, if anything they sound more dangerous than they have in an awfully long time. There is a fire in their bellies as they pound out another Post-Rock noise explosion, one with two distinctive halves and it is a tidal wave of sound that feels as if it has been given the required time to expand and breath.
By the time you reach the title track, it is only fitting that they end on a spectacular note. As is often the case with Mogwai, they let everything build so slowly and surely that it is hard not to appreciate the work that goes into a song such as “Every Country’s Sun”. It aims for the stars and they achieve that aim easily, you really cannot help but appreciate their work, the apparent ease with which they create a song of this nature, making each note count and each beat hits its target. It is a breath-taking ending to this album.
I have a new favourite Mogwai album.
They have finally bettered Mr. Beast! They have bettered Come On, Die Young! They have bettered The Hawk Was Howling and I cannot be more pleased with the results of Every Country’s Sun, it is as good a record as you are going to hear in 2017. It is an album where every track is placed with delicate precision and it finally feels like they have been unleashed, as if they have been allowed to explorer their own soundscape after all those soundtracks. There is not a moment I would not listen to, even “1,000 Foot Face” and not enjoy it which is the sign of a great album for me.
Negatives? None, it is one of those perfect moments of sound. It is going to cause a headache for my end of year blog, but that is for another day. I think Mogwai have reached a new peak and I love it! So well done Mogwai, please can we have some more of this type of album?