10 September 2017
Mogwai - Every Country's Sun
Mogwai are a band who hold a special place in my heart, a truly innovative band who have released some of the most beautiful post rock music I have ever hear. They have the ability to create music that will give the listener vivid dreams, songs that will haunt your waking hours and they seem to do it with such ease. However, recently I have found myself drifting away from their sound, mainly because their last few releases (apart from the excellent (but frustrating) Rave Tapes (our review linked here)) have been soundtracks. Now, as good as soundtracks sound, without the visual context they can sound a bit hallow and that has been a problem for me. Because, for me Mogwai works best when the images can be made in my own mind, with soundtracks the images are preordained as the music is made to fit the pictures. But I have never lost hope that they would return with their own album, one that would be free from their visual chains. Which brings us to Every Country's Sun, an album that I have long awaited. So, they are back on home turf, the cover is beautiful, will the music match that breathtaking art work?
01 – Coolverine
In keeping with all the best Mogwai albums, “Coolverine” starts everything with a stroke of genius. It is a building, progressive shoegazing number that sounds as mystical as it sounds awesome, a piece that is without time or equal. Mogwai are on top of their game from the beginning with this one, giving the listener passages of wonderful music to lose all thoughts and sense of self whilst it is being played in the world. This instrumental is a beautiful piece that has held my attention since I first heard it and it has never let go, it is one of the best piece of music I have heard in 2017, which means Mogwai have a tall order beating it over the course of this album.
02 – Party in the Dark
Hitting the listener with feedback, closely followed by some post rock attitude, “Party in the Dark” is a shoegazing song that looks at the world in shadow and how things change in the dark. It is a great piece, full of energy and it does not need to hit the distortion peddle for most of this. It reminds me of the sound of their album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, that picturesque record with a dark soul. This could have quite easily been released off that album, but it still feels right at home on Every Country’s Sun.
03 – Brain Sweeties
With effortless ease, Mogwai unleash this dominant builder, this behemoth that crawls out of your speakers and attacks with subtle edges to the music. It is a great riff, one that pitches and falls with ease and is such a glorious little gem of a song. The only issue with it that I have is the length, it is one of those time where Mogwai end a song too soon and it could have gone for a few more beats. It is a great number, but I wish it had a few more minutes attached to it.
04 – Crossing the Road Material
Arriving with feedback, low slung bass sounds and a mid-paced drumming style, “Crossing the Road Material” is in no hurry to make its point, to be honest it is still one that I am truly ready to make my overall opinion on. It is a good number, one that is very rewarding and it is allowed to expand gently over a long period of time, taking the listener along with it and making the world seem like a distant shadow. But I am still trying to figure out how much I like it, it will probably be my favourite in a few months’ time. For now though, it is just a great song.
05 – aka 47
After such an intense quartet of songs, it is only right for Mogwai to take it back a notch in terms of intensity, but not in terms of sound. It is a minimalist piece, one that does not grab your attention on the same way which “Coolverine” achieves, but it is still equally important on this album as it gives you a rest bite, which is what was required after that initial barge of sound at the beginning of the album. Everything has a job and a place on this album, “aka 47” does its job to perfection.
06 – 20 Size
The slow build on “20 Size” is a work of art, a drawn out piece and labour of love for Mogwai, one that is as jaw dropping as their work on Come on Die Young, as precise as their work on Mr. Beast and as accessible as anything of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. It starts off gentle enough, maybe even a bit lethargic to be honest, but then the noise erupts so slowly that you do not realise that you are being engulfed in sound and it ends up being one of those moments where everything comes together in a picture-perfect way. It is another highlight on this album, a lofty song that matches their talent and ambition.
07 – 1,000 Foot Face
Another slow piece here, one that is more atmospheric than long built, smouldering attack. It feels like a silent lull before a storm, with everything resting and keeping its distance. It is a nice song, one that does its job in the same manner as “aka 47” did earlier in the record. Nothing to rave about, but nothing to complain about either.
08 – Don’t Believe the Fife
“Don’t Believe the Fife” is another atmospheric, slow building track, one which almost disappears off the map if I am honest as it takes such a long time to reach its peak. For a six-minute song, it is not till the fourth minute that it finally feels as if they have hit their stride on this one. However… (and this is a big however) …once they hit that stride it is unstoppable and it is also a glorious piece of art. I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it as I am writing this, it is such a good song that they have saved from the jaws of mediocrity!
09 – Battered at a Scramble
I love the fuzzy tone they use at the beginning of this song, it gives such a warm and inviting feeling of the noise to follow. The song turns into an old school Post-Rock, psychedelic jam session that hits all the right spot, it is best when played at the loudest volume and it could really go on for much longer than the four minutes it is in the world. Another track cut short before its time, but it is still a beautiful piece of music.
10 – Old Poisons
Mogwai are not slowing down towards the end this album with “Old Poisons”, if anything they sound more dangerous than they have in an awfully long time. There is a fire in their bellies as they pound out another Post-Rock noise explosion, one with two distinctive halves and it is a tidal wave of sound that feels as if it has been given the required time to expand and breath. It is another piece that does not disappoint the listener and improves with each listen, so much so that it beats “Coolverine” to the title of best track of the record.
11 – Every Country’s Sun
The title track ends this record, it seems fitting in a way that they end on a spectacular note. As is often the case with Mogwai, they let everything build so slowly and surely that it is hard not to appreciate the work that goes into a song such as “Every Country’s Sun”. It aims for the stars and they achieve that aim easily, you really cannot help but appreciate their work, the apparent ease with which they create a song of this nature, making each note count and each beat hits its target. It is a breath-taking ending to this album.
I have a new favourite Mogwai album. They have finally bettered Mr. Beast and I cannot be more pleased with the results of Every Country’s Sun, it is as good a record as you are going to hear in 2017. It is an album where every track is placed with delicate precision and it finally feels like they have been unleashed, as if they have been allowed to explorer their own soundscape after all those soundtracks. There is not a moment I would not listen to, even “1,000 Foot Face” and not enjoy it which is the sign of a great album for me. Negatives? None, it is one of those perfect moments of sound. It is going to cause a headache for my end of year blog, but that is for another day. I think Mogwai have reached a new peak and I love it, well done Mogwai, please can we have some more?
10 out of ten – This is proof that there is a Deity
Top track – Old Poisons
You can purchase Every Country's Sun on Amazon here.
You can visit the Mogwai website here.
You can follow the activities of Mogwai on Facebook here.
You can stream Every Country's Sun on Spotify here.
You can stream Every Country's Sun on Deezer here.
You can stream Every Country's Sun on Tidal here.
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