(Out Jan 21st on Sub Pop)
HAVE MOGWAI GONE ELECTRONIC? The name of album number eight suggests so. Tired of being an egg, they’ve decided to hatch and learn how to fly. 17 years after their exceptional debut Young Team, they’ve developed a new sound. How brave! How very brave. I can’t wait to hear it! Oh, wait, a red herring (sorry to ruin the egg analogy). It’s Mogwai being Mogwai. Purposeful and cinematic but more of the same; this is not Mogwai gone electronic. The track ‘Remurdered’ drives forward with a perma-frost cool and city night time menace that would put Ryan Golsing to shame, and does hint at a new direction but again, they throw in a red herring as the rest of the album sees Mogwai creep back within their own self-imposed parameters.
The bands commitment to a motif and their ability and willingness to run with it, underpins the reason why their music is so well liked for soundtracks. ‘Deesh’ hammers along repetitively, conjuring an image of a death march in the year 5000 under an invading force. I can’t wait to have this song accompany my imaginary film that doesn’t exist. Whilst there is the odd gem, the latter stages are a let down as ‘No Medicine for Regret’ and the ‘Lord is Out of Control’ repeat, tire and fatigue. I felt a palpable sense of relief when these songs ended and it made me reflect on the album somewhat negatively, if only because it sapped all my energy.
To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: it’s hard for an egg to turn into a bird whilst remaining an egg. You must be hatched or go bad. Rave Tapes is not a bad album, but it’s not a bird either. It’s just an ordinary, decent egg. (5)