Mogwai's Every Country's Sun is an album packed with the sound of the times
- David Pollock
- 29 August 2017
Post rockers offer something new on ninth studio album
There seems to be a school of thought working in certain corners that says Mogwai offer more of the same every time they return, that their disciplined and regular output has remained stuck in stylistic amber since Young Team first emerged in 1997. They're the acme of noisy indie guitar groups for people whose ears are still stuck in the 20th century, runs this train of thought, although it's an opinion which doesn't survive the first listen to Every Country's Sun.
Produced by Dave Fridmann for the first time since 2001's Rock Action, the record condenses a looming sense of all that has happened since Rave Tapes was a surprise chart hit in 2014; the Scottish Indyref, Brexit, Trump, the death of David Bowie. From these remarkably fresh old-timers comes the sound of their times, a blend of dark, foreboding build-ups and euphoric release.
Complaining about their instrumentation is a tired excuse for not immersing oneself in Mogwai's mastery of pulling at emotional strings, from the hesitant uplift of 'Battered at a Scramble' to the title track's strident resolve. The above tracks are two of the most rock things on here, and despite the band's ready identification of themselves with the genre, the sound of clashing guitars is no longer the most exciting thing Mogwai do on record.
Their current emphasis is on a dream-like ambiance created by heavily produced analogue instruments and electronic elements; for example, on the shimmering nuclear sunrise of 'Coolverine', whose outro appears to contain a saxophone part reminiscent of Berlin Bowie; the Cure-evoking anthem 'Party in the Dark' (the album's sole track with proper vocals); 'Crossing the Road Material', which begins amid Neu!-like synths; and the fearsomely minimalist 'aka 47'. For those attuned to Mogwai's aesthetic, it's the next layer of strata to a career which rewards geological excavation.
Every Country's Sun is out Fri 1 Sep via Rock Action Records