When I finally got my hands on this new Mogwai release, I thought I was ready for what was in store. I had been listening to the band’s lengthy discography for the entire month of August. This would be my first Mogwai review, and my first time listening to more than one of their songs at a time. Once I listened to albums such as Young Team and Happy Songs for Happy People, I began to understand why the band was so influential within the post-rock genre. While I wasn’t always impressed with the soft, despondent sound of their early work, they had their moments. Every Country’s Sun has some of its own moments.
We start of with “Coolverine”, a somewhat traditional post-rock song. The various instruments slowly build a sloping mountain of sound that the band slides up and down at their leisure. I can appreciate the icy synths and gentle guitar melodies, but the melody is painfully static. Yes, the instrumentation is pretty, but it doesn’t seem to do anything but grow and shrink in intensity. I don’t feel like I’ve been taken on a musical journey; I’ve been taken around a NASCAR track.
Later on, we have “Brain Sweeties”. This track seems to build and shrink much faster than their older material. There was a lot of potential in this track that seemed to go overlooked. If Mogwai had stretched out the rises and falls, they could have done more with the arrangement. But even so, the driving basslines and strong pianos in the second half of the song make for a pleasant listen.
…and New Sounds
There’s one particular track on this album that takes a significant step away from the band’s core sound. Of course I’m referring to “Party in the Dark”. It’s a midpaced rock song that reminds me of Real Estate and Dan Auerbach, but with a spacey ambiance. Its simplicity and tempo put it far from the genre of post-rock. That simplicity does more to hinder the track than help it, as the echoing vocals and lackluster chorus leave the song feeling bland.
Some of the more atmospheric cuts on Every Country’s Sun warrant simplicity, and it works pretty well. There’s a sense of directness on this album that I didn’t hear on, for instance, Come On Die Young. “aka 47” and “20 Size” are good examples; their soft, lo-fi aesthetic feels more vulnerable and less secretive than usual. “20 Size” specifically piques my interest with its washed-out guitars and simple synth accompaniment. That and the title track supplies the type of sounds that I enjoy from Mogwai the most. The foreboding-turned-brilliant “Every Country’s Sun” shows off the band’s songwriting ability and will to experiment. Its shimmering guitars and sparkling melody make for a great ending to the album.
Generally, I enjoy this album more than I thought I would. There were ideas that needed to be expanded upon, but these ideas are still listenable. And even when there were moments that were less worthy, there was nothing abhorrent. I’ll be returning to the highlights of the album soon.
Notable Tracks: “aka 47”; “20 Size”; “Every Country’s Sun”
FFO: Do Make Say Think, Talk Talk, Sigur Rós