Mogwai - Mr Beast
Reviewed by Simon on 11th March 2006
Post-rock can be a strange genre at the best of times. Twelve minute songs, no vocals, no choruses, often foreign band members and bizarre instruments are all accepted parts of the show gazing scene these days, making it a difficult genre for the casual music fan to properly feel a connection with, and making it an equally difficult genre to review.
Whilst some post-rock bands are now going mainstream, such as Sigur Rós who'll be playing main stage festival slots this summer in the UK, others have achieved moderate success without much media recognition and fanfare. In between these two extremes of media idols and media nonentities lies Scottish pioneers Mogwai. Chances are this is one post-rock band you will have heard of, albeit possibly for the wrong reasons. The band themselves are known to be arrogant and outspoken, often having digs at fellow musicians and posting rants about various people and products on their all too opinionated website. Beneath this aggressive exterior there is a more considered and impressive side to Mogwai however, the evidence of this being their past four albums released over the last nine years. Aside from the mainstream press, Mogwai have an ever swelling fan base and often get used to soundtrack television programmes and occasionally even get name checked on Neighbours (much to the surprise of anybody who happens to see this phenomenon).
Now into their tenth year of actually releasing records Mogwai return with their new opus Mr Beast, named after a sign they seen held up at an airport by a taxi driver looking to meet a "Mr and Mrs Beast" off a plane. On first listen it'd be easy to dismiss this as standard Mogwai fare, but there are some subtle differences which set it apart from its predecessors.
Firstly it's not a long album by any means at under three quarters of an hour long, and only two of the tracks pass the five minute mark. For a band who have in the past written tracks longer than twenty minutes this comes as somewhat of a surprise although makes the album a much more accessible and commercially viable prospect. While the seems like a departure from their previous works, in juxtaposition the sound of the tracks themselves owes more to early louder Mogwai than to any new found sound for the band. Clearly this is a band who know their genre inside out and don't feel the need to challenge the conventions that they themselves defined in the nineties.
The first four tracks (Auto Rock, Glasgow Mega-Snake, Acid Food, Travel Is Dangerous) blend together seamlessly and sublimely, sounding like one giant dinosaur of an opener to the album and collectively sound reminiscent of the band's "Young Team" era. As the album progresses we reach the single which preceded the album, "Friend Of The Night". Owing more to "Happy Songs For Happy People" era Mogwai this song is as delicate as it is epic and serves as a perfect reminder why Mogwai are famed for being amongst the best at what they do. Never in the past being a band to release singles, some may view the move to release this track a cynical sell out, but it works so well in an individual context that it seems only fair that it ought to be given its chance to shine kept apart from the rest of the album.
Possible future single "Glasgow Mega-Snake" does its title proud by sounding like a true beast of a song (no pun intended). Ferocious throughout it sounds like a live favourite in the making. The rumours of this being the next single also claim that the b-side will be entitled "Edinburgh Crap-Worm" - a dig which epitomises the band itself, as Mogwai seemingly model themselves on being the Oasis of post-rock if there can be such a thing.
Elsewhere on the album "I Chose Horses" sounds like an instant classic with a slow but steady rhythm and discreetly muttered French lyrics in the background. It easily rates alongside the best of Mogwai's back catalogue and heralds a revisiting of some of the more experimental tracks from their "Come On Die Young" album.
Overall Mr Beast is a true behemoth to behold, a twisting turning pulsating 43 minutes of genre defining clarity. There are no complaints, there are no issues, nothing. This is as close to perfection as any post-rock band is likely to come for a very long time, and proves beyond doubt the merit of Mogwai's high status among the indie scenester crowd who cherish them so dearly.
Add a comment
Comments are currently disabled.