here’s nothing here as desolating as Young Team’s “Tracy,” as delightful as EP + 6’s “Rage: Man,” or as exciting as Ten Rapid’s “Summer,” but Mogwai are alive and kicking once more.
|Title||The Hawk is Howling|
|Label||Wall of Sound|
They’ll probably stop me writing for this paper for saying this, but here goes: I’ve always been a little underwhelmed by Mogwai (Ed. – you’re dead to me, Tim). In my defence, I probably didn’t start in the right places. Happy Songs for Happy People is supposed to be the greatest thing since the birth of music snobbery, but I found it toothless and unrewarding. Mr. Beast was the sound of a band who didn’t know why they were in the studio.
I know this is a towering statement of egocentricity – even from me – but you’d swear they knew I’d been giving out about them, because if “Batcat” doesn’t amaze you enough to make you love this band, then it’ll certainly frighten you into it. Its pummelling main riff is curiously upbeat for something so heavy, giving proceedings a kind of terrifying, demented joyfulness. The off-kilter rhythms are somewhat similar to the sound of something massive and clawed happily turfing your furniture around the room.
However, they’ve clearly got a good cop/bad cop thing going on here, because “The Sun Smells Too Loud” is – wait for it – positively beguiling. As synaesthetic as its title, its happy, stampy drums, lovely orange guitar sound and cool keyboard washes all make me think of Loop-the-Loop ice-pops. Mogwai are a band of few words. When they do make use of vocals, they’re usually shredded through a vocoder or relate to physical violence. This sixth album, however, is an entirely speechless affair, so even the quiet bits hum with menace.
Last year, that other Big Important Band of the 90s – Radiohead – released In Rainbows. While the album wasn’t as visceral or groundbreaking as anything they’ve done in the last decade, it felt like they’d come back in from the cold. The same can be said for The Hawk Is Howling. There’s nothing here as desolating as Young Team’s “Tracy,” as delightful as EP + 6’s “Rage: Man,” or as exciting as Ten Rapid’s “Summer,” but Mogwai are alive and kicking once more.