Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun – Album Review by Killian Laher
Mogwai are something of an institution at this stage, twenty one years on from their earliest recordings. In recent years they have increasingly incorporated keyboards and electronic instrumentation into their largely instrumental output. Output that has arrived with increasing regularity, this their third album in the last four years (including soundtracks). It’s also their first album minus long term guitarist John Cummings.
Despite this, little has changed with Mogwai. Opener Coolverine could easily have fit into their soundtrack work with prominent keyboards joining the moody guitar lines. As strong as any previous album opener, it builds gradually, adding drums and an increasingly evident bassline. Party In The Dark is a real curveball for them, a straightforward 4/4 beat introduces a song that can be best described as a kind of post-rock All Night Long! It wouldn’t be their first Lionel Richie reference (see 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die album), and it’s certainly one of the more atypical Mogwai songs, particularly as it features vocals.
The keyboard-heavy aka 47 and the almost choral 1000 Foot Face are curiously blissed-out and peaceful, all twinkling organ, rolling guitars and steady percussion. A change of tack arrives on 20 Size with Stuart Braithwaite’s heavy, shoegaze-y guitar given a fine workout, preventing the album from becoming too mellow, as does the warped guitar explosion halfway through the wonderfully titled Don’t Believe The Fife. The guitars on Battered at a Scramble stomp their way through an epic workout on a track you’d expect to be explosive live. Penultimate track Old Poisons is the heaviest thing here and it hits as hard as Glasgow Megasnake or Batcat with its thunderous bone-shaking riffs.
Elsewhere, Brain Sweeties and Crossing The Road Material are more like regulation Mogwai, soaring melodies punctuated by crashing guitars but they do this sort of thing better than anyone else. You think you’ve heard it all with this band, yet each album rewards, the band maintain a high quality without repeating themselves. For non-fans, this would be as good a starting point as any.
2. Party In The Dark
3. Brain Sweeties
4. Crossing The Road Material
5. aka 47
6. 20 Size
7. 1000 Foot Face
8. Don’t Believe The Fife
9. Battered at a Scramble
10. Old Poisons
11. Every Country’s Sun