Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Review
It’s hard to talk about “post-rock” without discussing the uselessness of the term, and, similarly, it’s hard to write about Mogwai without considering their place within a genre that semantically might as well not exist. Formed in 1995, Mogwai is one of post-rock’s “Big Five,” and it is the band’s masterful, then-innovative use of quiet-loud dynamics that still marks (or plagues) the genre. As much as Mogwai may scorn its empty qualifier, they will forever be haunted by its legacy. Luckily, they’ve learned to see through the ghost.
Last year I generously deemed Mogwai’s last release, a live album called Special Moves, a “well curated live set of newer and classic Mogwai songs.” Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will couldn’t be more different. Mogwai’s seventh studio album not only downplays the crescendo-release song structure the band proliferated, but also artfully borrows from influences not often heard in post-rock releases: foggy stoner rock and comatose post-punk.
As fraught and rash as any Joy Division song, “Mexican Grand Prix” marches forward with a charming, non-committal abandon and daftpunky vocals. This song, as well as “George Square Thatcher Death Party” and “How to Be a Werewolf,” throttles you with Sunny Day Real Estate-esque melodrama, wanders like a Smashing Pumpkins jam session, and competes with A Place to Bury Strangers for the “goriest ear-surgery award.” Channeling the Jurassic slowness of Neurosis-riffage, lead single “Rano Pano” and “You’re Little Richard” are the manifest sounds of tectonic indifference and cavernous despair. Buried under crashing waves of distortion is a painfully dark album.
Many of the first post-rock bands—Slint, Talk Talk, and Bark Psychosis among them—were masters of postmodern jujitsu: They turned the stale tropes of rock music against each other to create something bold, experimental, and cathartic in the same way that rock axed out a new aesthetic from blues. Wary of getting cozy with a stereotype, Mogwai have reclaimed the history of their genre: making an extravagant palace for yourself out of the ruins of another.
— Will Wlizlo (the Utne Reader)
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will will be available on 2/15 via Sub Pop