Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Mogwaireview by MetalMattLongo
[written by Mats Johansen for MindOverMetal.org]
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Label: Sub Pop (US)/Rock Action (EU)
I first heard this uncompromising Scottish band in ’97 when they released their magnificent debut Young Team and were defined as heroes of new Rock music by the awestruck public. I’ve bought all their albums and seen them a handful times live on stage, and since I’ve never been disappointed by their music, I’ve had increasingly high expectations for each new release. They’ve yet to release an unsatisfying record and even though they’ve never left the post-rock genre, they’ve established themselves as masters of instrumental rock.
So, how does Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will sound in comparison to Mogwai‘s formidable discography? Well, it’s both a bold look into the future and a display of all the things that’ve made the band contemporary legends. The album opens with “White Noise” which feels familiar—a slow, shoegazing dance to set things in motion. But as this calm intro ends, it’s clear that this record is sort of a crossroads. The band have thrown in a lot of new ingredients to the boiling stew that is Mogwai and even though some of these new flavors are an acquired taste, others are an instant success.
Mogwai are merchants of quiet/loud, darkened instrumental rock. So it’s a bit surprising to hear them play vocal electro pop in “Mexico Grand Prix”, while light-footed indie rock influences “Rano Pano” and “San Pedro”. The songs ain’t too bad—filtered through their own soundscapes—but they seem too “accessible”. It may well be that the band want to become more radio-friendly, but I feel that these songs sacrifice their darkness and ambience on the altar of accessibility. Or it may be that I feel these songs sounds like copies of Swedish rock bands Kent, Silverbullit and bob hund.
But, they’ve sequenced the album perfectly. The second half is a welcome return to the territory they’ve mastered for more than a decade—sort of. They’ve clearly decided to shake things up a bit and even these songs will probably sound “new” to their fanbase. “Letters To The Metro” is the quiet before the storm, a gorgeous piano-driven song that seems inspired by Austrian laptop guitarist Christian Fennesz. “George Square Thatcher DeathParty” is an up-tempo number that sounds related to their wonderful classic “Hunted By A Freak”; “Too Raging To Cheers” is a inspired fusion of Neu‘s “Hallogallo” and Yo La Tengo; while “You’re Lionel Richie” is the album’s epic—slow and brooding, reminiscent of the output of a heavy band like Horseback.
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is a record that shows Mogwai are eager to explore new territory. It’s not perfect, and some of these songs feels like B-side throwaways to me, but as always, it’s a thrill to follow them into the unknown.
Try: 1, 6, 7, 8, 10
01. White noise
02. Mexican Grand Prix
03. Rano Pano
04. Death Rays
05. San Pedro
06. Letters To The Metro
07. George Square Thatcher DeathParty
08. How To Be A Werewolf
09. Too Raging To Cheers
10. You’re Lionel Richie