Release Date: Feb 15, 2011
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Post-Rock
Click to Listen to Mogwai's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Of all the great Nineties guitar bands, Mogwai might be the one fighting hardest to keep the decade's anything-goes spirit alive. The Glasgow space-rockers have never lost their faith in ear-bleeding noise. On their superbly titled seventh album, they go for epic guitar savagery, weaving feedback with melody in the majestic surge of "You're Lionel Richie." They mess with keyboards on tracks like "How to Be a Werewolf," exploring the jagged electro grooves of groups like Neu! and Stereolab.
It seems that Mogwai can’t help but sound hopeful, these days. There’s always been a plaintive, skyward reaching quality to the (predominantly) instrumental Glaswegians's best moments, when their instruments seem to suddenly break free of their flesh and blood shackles and soar towards the heavens, but it’s become ever more pronounced throughout their career. Witness the dawn-breaking strains of 'Autorock' and the warm piano that opens 'I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead', the first tracks on their last two albums.
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will MOGWAI play the Phoenix April 26. See listing. Rating: NNNN The album with the year's best title is also the poppiest Scotland's Mogwai have ever released. While their spacious, mostly instrumental music makes good use of dynamics (and reaches ear-bleeding volumes during live shows), they mark their label switch from Matador to Sub Pop with a lightness (as in absence of darkness, not bereft of weight) that's refreshing.
By the 2010s, post-rock had been around long enough that the style’s artists could look back to their roots. Mogwai does that on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, from the title’s bone-dry humor to the band’s reunion with Young Team producer Paul Savage. The musical DNA of Young Team -- and its definitive track “Like Herod” in particular -- is everywhere on Hardcore Will Never Die, informing the doomy coda of “Too Raging to Cheers” as well as opening track “White Noise”'s graceful melodic arcs, which lure the listener in rather than making a grand statement.
Other than creating mind-shredding, eardrum-perforating noise-rock, you can always count on [a]Mogwai[/a] to come up with brilliant song titles, and [b]‘Hardcore…’[/b] has some doozies. The Tory-baiting [b]‘George Square Thatcher Death Party’[/b] and [b]‘You’re Lionel Richie’[/b] – a reference to the Glasgow-based [b]‘Easy Lionel’[/b] viral video on YouTube (check it out, folks) – may well be the clear winners in the titter-some stakes, but they’re also significant markers in the Lanarkshire masters’ progression. Sure, the likes of the lung-collapsing [b]‘Rano Pano’[/b] and the slow building head-fuck of [b]‘How To Be A Werewolf’[/b] are instantly recognisably Mogwai, but the synth-electro mash of [b]‘Mexican Grand Prix’[/b] is a huge leap from the norm.
Last year’s Burning documentary captured Scotland’s Mogwai in a particularly seething mood. Shot starkly in black and white, the film showcased the volatile side of the Mogwai songbook, with The Hawk Is Howling‘s cacophonous “Batcat” providing a suitably visceral finale. Since Mogwai chose to present themselves at their heaviest, I figured that 2011 would be the year that the art-rock vets would embrace their somewhat unfashionable metal influences and push their sound to the next plateau of amp-blowing menace—a wager I took to be more or less confirmed when they announced their new album’s hilariously foreboding title, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.
Mogwai have, once again, produced an amazing record. Want to read our verdict on it? Despite (or perhaps because of) the current proliferation of anemic instrumental groups, post-rock is hardly the most fashionable of genres as we enter 2011 and, after the lukewarm reception to the excellent (at least to these ears) ‘The Hawk Is Howling’ Mogwai represent a band who are, perhaps, under pressure to deliver; certainly, the decision to team up with producer Paul Savage for the first time since their debut ‘Young Team’ would suggest a desire to rekindle former glories but, in ‘Hardcore…’, the band have produced a resolutely forward-thinking record. Sure, this is manifestly a Mogwai record but at the same time, it doesn’t really sound like anything in their extensive back catalogue.
Mogwai have always seemed to have a much better sense of humor than most of their peers. While most of the bands that sound like them (e.g. Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Sigur Rós) opt for either brooding, austere soundscapes or breathtakingly ethereal musical collages, the Scottish five-piece have a knack for poking fun at everything from the silliness of the genre they’re often lumped into (Really? Post-rock is the best you can come up with?) to the stagnancy of much of today’s music by toying around with dynamics and silence to shake things up aurally.
Mogwai never seemed like a particularly good bet to age well. They came out of the gate as a band that Meant Something to many people, namely fans of heavy guitar music and rock critics. They established a clear, identifiable, and exciting new sound, but their latest LP-- Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will-- doesn't change the pattern Mogwai have set for themselves on recent, often middling, releases: There are some anthemic guitar blasts, some prettily drifting comedowns, and one or two vocal tracks.
It’s hard to keep a good band down, sure. And Mogwai’s a pretty good band. But who’s trying to keep them down? Certainly not me, no matter how disparaging my account of their ATP New York appearance a few years back happened to be. Theirs is a music comfortably ensconced in the niche of tried and true crescendo rock.
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. How can the music on any album possibly live up to a title like that? Nevermind that it sounds both hilarious and bad-ass, it also can’t help but remind you of Mogwai’s best album, 1999’s Come on Die Young. The insistent, dangerous edge of that record’s title is replaced here with a wearier outlook, a more bleak awareness of mortality.
A sense of humour is a useful thing to have – while many of their more portentous contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, Mogwai continue to be surprisingly successful (it would have been madness when the Glaswegian lads released their first records to suggest that they'd evolve into a chart-bothering, festival headlining act, but here we are). And judging by the title of their latest record it looks like the band are being their old, playful selves. What makes Hardcore Will Never Die...
Review Summary: Hardcore may never die, but Mogwai's mortality has never been more evident.The anger seen in Mogwai's youth may just be the reason for their status as one of post-rock’s most celebrated bands, one of the genre’s top dogs. Their debut album, Young Team, the album that got them and still gets them mounds of praise, attention and new followers, that was an album born from contempt and hatred. Not that that's any secret.
Scottish quintet’s seventh studio LP forgoes fiery riffs for melodic accessibility. Mike Diver 2011 A provocative title, an opening track called White Noise: surely, say all on-paper signs, this is a return to the squall of old, to the tumult and turbulence that characterised the finest moments of Mogwai’s early catalogue. Not so, it turns out, as such signifiers are red herrings, distracting expectation away from where it should be, from measured maturity to reckless tinnitus.
It’s damn near impossible to discuss, let alone passively reference, the genre unfortunately tagged as post-rock without mentioning Scottish quintet Mogwai. By (mostly) eschewing a reliance on lyrics and instead focusing on the visceral and volatile results that can arise when one exacerbates the journey from tension to release, these purveyors of “serious guitar music” have ridden a steady wave of critical acclaim for nearly 15 years now. The band’s 1997 debut, Young Team, arrived at a time when post-rock’s namesake was under attack, just as acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Tortoise were building formidable reputations for shunning melody in favor of expansively textured soundscapes.