on 17 May 2007
I never got Mogwai until I bought this and then I immediately got hold of everything else I could and immersed myself in what has been described as "the last truly punk band in the world".
Mogwai are as unique as Bjork, Sigur Ros and Joy Division. They create aural soundscapes of immense beauty and horror often combining the two to leave you shellshocked. While people lazily focus on the "blistering feedback - yah de dah" it is usually the delicate touches which seal the band's musical identity.
In the mix there are elements of every form of music ranging from the darkest heaviest roar to melodies which seem to hark from traditional Scottish folk - honest it's all there if you let go and listen.
I recently saw the gow live and they are a formidable machine capable of lifting the roof of venues while making grown men weep.
If you don't get it then go away and come back again because some day it will just click and all fall into place and you'll wondeer what you have been doing for the past ten years.
By the way I only gave it four stars cos it's not the best Mogwai album for me - that would be Happy Songs For Happy People followed by Young Team.
on 9 November 2006
My dad heard this on the radio once and imediatly went out and bought it. I for one am glad he did because I LOVE this album. You have to play it really loud and all the tracks are brilliant. My favorite is 'friend of the night' which I could play over and over again, it's that good. This is real music.
on 6 April 2006
Mr. Beast is Mogwai's fifth full length LP, and their first in three years. The album basically brings together everything that the band have achieved with their previous works, and delivers it in 10 nice manageable chunks of no more than 5 and a half minutes or so (relatively short by their standards). It's this restraint which proves to be both the album's greatest strength and its greatest weakness.
There's plenty of fine songs here to add to Mogwai's already impressive catalogue. The uber-riffing Glasgow Mega Snake is as direct as the band's ever been in the rock stakes, and offers a welcome shift in pace from their standard relaxed tempo. Album closer We're No Here is better still, as the guitars slowly layer on top of one another to deliver a dense and searing finale. Opening track Auto Rock builds up steadily in classic Mogwai style, its rudimentary drum beat getting ever louder as the track progresses.
The greater emphasis on vocals is welcome as well, although the vocals remain pleasantly understated, so as not to detract from the music. It's a trick which works beautifully on both Travel Is Dangerous and Acid Food. The spoken words of Tetsuya Fukagawa on the serene I Chose Horses are also an inspired touch.
But during the midway stage, the album seems to lose steam. Both Team Handed and Emergency Trap, whilst perfectly listenable, are instantly forgettable. First single, the piano-led Friend Of The Night is pleasant, but the shimmering guitars which lift it to another level when performed live are curiously low in the mix here. Whilst such songs would have worked fine on earlier albums such as Young Team as a means of bringing together the more substantial, more sprawling songs, here it just doesn't work as the songs are of such similar length.
The truth is that Mogwai are one of the few bands that can justify the extra playing time of a 7, 10 or even 16 minute song (see the glorious Mogwai Fear Satan). By limiting the length of these songs, Mogwai have stymied their creativity somewhat. That's not to say that this isn't another fine album. In fact, Mr. Beast probably stands as the band's most accessible work, and an ideal introduction to one of Britain's most talented bands. But to hear the band in full flow, Young Team remains the one to go for.
Key Tracks: Glasgow Mega Snake, Travel Is Dangerous, We're No Here
on 11 August 2010
Writing about Mogwai rarely does justice to the music contained within. Or maybe it's my chronic inability to write about (mostly) instrumental music. Either way 2006 saw the first Mogwai album for 3 years, which starts gingerly with Auto-Rock, entering on a piano sequence which builds, adding drums into a crescendo. It would be the perfect `walk-on stage' music for the band. The album then bursts forward with the explosive Glasgow Mega-Snake, which is pretty much like Mogwai gone heavy metal.
Acid Food features electronic beats and steel guitar, and Stuart Braithwaite's vocoderized vocals. These elements should clash horribly but coalesce to produce a decent track, reminiscent of some of the tracks on Rock Action.
What's noticeable about this album is that the tracks are shorter, and more concise, none of running longer than 5 and a half minutes, and most of them less than 4. This is not necessarily what you want from Mogwai, as one of their main strengths is their command of pacing and dynamics, in allowing a piece of music to carefully unfurl and evolve into something.
Case in point is the track Travel Is Dangerous, which has the raw materials required to be an absolute epic, containing the classic Mogwai build up to heavy guitars, though it all happens rather quickly and the track ends in just 4 minutes.
After the piano-led Team Handed, also 4 minutes but conversely, doesn't really need to be, we get Emergency Trap which pleasingly is 5 and a half minutes, with a nice build up and some stately piano parts with the help of some distorted guitars and heavy drums (hooray!). It's the track Travel Is Dangerous should have been.
Emergency Trap has a blessed-out atmosphere and drifts along serenely, but this is shattered by Folk Death 95 which pounds along most pleasingly in a classic Mogwai vein with some very metallish guitars. This track also benefits form a proper build up as we are led into metal mayhem gradually, rather than dumped straight into it. I'd still like a longer version of this one though, as the heaviness ebbs away almost as soon as it starts. No Mogwai track should be only 3 and a half minutes long!
I Chose Horses features Tetsuya Fukagawa from a Japanese hardcore band Envy reciting Japanese over a keyboard arrangement by composer Craig Armstrong but the overall effect leaves me a little nonplussed. However final track We're No Here is a nice heavy blast to end the album.
It's a very solid album, for sure, but I wouldn't have complained if many of the songs were a lot longer. However the shorter nature of the songs might act as a handy starting point for those looking to discover this band. And, let's face it, who needs Sigur Ros, with these guys around?
Mogwai don't respond well to bad criticism. Luckily, they won't be receiving much for this new album. It is stunning, epic, melodic, it's wonderful. "Glasgow Mega-Snake" is a hard-hitting, in your face song. With such a powerful presense to it, it can't halp but get the listener's attention.
The highlight of the album however is "Friend Of The Night", which shows that the band really know how to make a tune. With so much experience, lotf of albums under their belts, this is a brilliant song. It has a beautiful melody to it building up into a stunning, instrumental chorus.
The band have hit back at those who have criticised their music in the best way possible. Not with an angry journal entry, but with a superb album.
on 25 August 2006
yeah that's what mogwai realized in their new album Mr Beast.. as their last album Happy songs for happy people Mogwai combines like nobody else on planet earth hardcore furiosity and extremely deep emotions and etereal melodies..
tracks like Travel is dangerous are the purest symbol of their unique style..heavenly piano riffs and destructive electric distorsions are combined like never before.
the rest of the album is gorgeous..uninspired songs aren't in mogwai's vocaboulary..instead tracks like Team handed or (the mastodontical melodious) Emergency trap will allways be remembered by every fan of mogwai.
on 18 March 2006
The talk leading up to the release of this lp concerned Mogwai’s apparent “return to noise”, perhaps giving the impression that it would be crammed full of nothing but Like Herod clones. This is somewhat misleading, as although Mr Beast does see the band returning to volume levels not heard since the last few tracks on CODY on the likes of Glasgow Mega-Snake, it is a much more varied and complex album. This, if you hadn’t guessed yet, is a very good thing. The sound is unmistakably Mogwai, but rather than returning to the old long quiet/loud songs that served them well in the early part of their career, the album is split into shorter tracks which change in both volume and feel but fit together perfectly. In a world where the likes of Pelican, Capricorns and Mono are knocking out great albums crammed full of 8+ minute tracks, it’s refreshing to hear that Mogwai are not jumping back on the bandwagon and have both a strong identity and cracking tunes.
Some of the strongest tracks are those that feature piano work at the heart of the track, especially the slow-building opener Auto Rock and the equally brilliant Team Handed. In fact, rather than all the focus being on the noise aspect, the emphasis should be placed on how beautiful and absorbing this album is. The undoubted highlight is closer We’re No Here, a tune worthy of a place in the Neurosis back catalogue – it’s that good.
Overall this is probably Mogwai’s strongest lp to date, and will undoubtedly improve with every listen. It retains elements from all parts of their career, so fans of the earlier albums will love it as much as those who enjoyed Rock Action and Happy Music…
on 20 February 2006
It was bound to happen eventually. Everyone's favourite Scottish sonic sculptors have finally gone and made an album that's, well, a bit dull. Even their biggest fans have to admit their music has always threatened this - the repetition, the lack of vocals, the repetition (ha ha). But they'd always steered clear by constantly tinkering with the formula, pumping up the volume and, to be blunt, just writing beautiful pieces of music that make your hairs stand up and rock.
There's nothing especially bad about Mr Beast, but the title gives a clue as to why there's something amiss - the Young Team has, it seems, grown up and gone all respectable, and there's a definite edge lacking to the music. This is their most tired and lacklustre effort since EP+6, which was more of a collection of B sides than a proper album.
They still know how to serve up the rock, as Glasgow Mega Snake and Folk Death 95 - neat, single length encapsulations of Mogwai's noise terrorism - prove, along with actual single Friend of the Night, a pulsing piano-led waltz, whipped off into the sunset by soaring guitars. Unfortunately, one can’t help shake the feeling that they’ve done this all before, and to much greater effect.
There are stand-out tracks; Auto Rock is a stomping, stately, slightly oriental affair and opens the album extremely well, and Acid Food, with its winsome country guitars and xylophonics, is probably the chirpiest thing Mogwai have ever done, as well as the nearest they've got to a traditional song since Rock Action’s Take Me Somewhere Nice.
But there’s nothing that grabs you and really makes you take notice, as there has been in every single one of their previous LPs. Instead, Travel Is Dangerous strays perilously close to emo(!!!), while Team Handed and I Chose Horses are rather dreary, with the latter's Japanese poetry recital tacked on seemingly as an afterthought.
I'm still giving Mr Beast a good rating, but only because I'm a lifelong fan, and feel that an average Mogwai album is far superior to most other bands' best efforts. But I certainly wouldn't recommend this to any Mogwai virgins - try Happy Songs or Young Team if you really want to have your eyes opened and your ears blown into your skull.
on 1 February 2006
Got hold of a promo from an industry friend (i feel so dirty saying that)...
This album is brilliant, but then I would say that, because I find it hard to dislike anything Mogwai do; even Rock Action, which I thought was particularly wussy, by their standards. Anyway, this album is not wussy.. I really liked "Happy Songs..." but lots of ppl seemed to think it was continuing down the road of RA, and demonstrating Mogwai's confused efforts to mature (those ppl were wrong, but nevermind)... this album has tiny elements of Happy Songs; chiming pianos in big rooms, dark gurgling synths... but the most immediately apparent difference is the guitars; gone are the noodly-clean licks that Mogwai have propagated since CODY, in favour of a harsher (fuller?) metal sound... yes, this album is loud, and benefits from being played loud... trust me, youll love it, im still coming to terms with it... its not helicon 1, but its not trying to be; its bolder, wiser, and full of all the different sounds theyve tried along the way - buy it now, thank me later.
on 9 April 2006
Mr Beast is the first mogwai album to give me a sense of real deja vu, yet at the same time leaving me feeling fullfilled.
For those mogwai fans out there what the band have essentially done is repeat the styles of previous songs (with a few notable exceptions). The opener, Auto-Rock, is very much like I know you are but what am I? without the subtlety, and builds to an unsatisfactory climax, although at the same time sounds awesome with the volume at full pelt ( a rule which generally fits the whole album). This is quickly sated by the first of the non familiar tracks the ripping 'glasgow mega snake'( Suitably titled? answers on a postcard please...) which gives a tantalising glimpse of what mogwai could have sounded like if they had become an all out metal band, riffs solos and all(again full volume is required) and suddenly cuts to an abrupt end mid way through a sinister riff. From here things calm down and once again we are back in familiar territory, with the cody-esque acid food, a track which has all the beauty you would expect from a mogwai vocal song, followed by 'travel is dangerous' which is the closest mogwai track yet to being a standard verse/chorus construct. 'Team handed'is 'golden porsche' repackaged for mr beast...competent, but not endearing.
okay controversy time. Friend of the night is really good...despite single reviews on this album it sounds awsome. It probably appeals more to the sigur ros contigent of mogwai fans than the sonic youth/ My bloody valentine types, but it really is a beauty of a track, the piano works brilliantly and without cheese or sentimentality. it builds and loops and swirls around culminating in the defining moment of the album at 02:41 where the noise gives way to some simple piano.This is followed by MrBeasts xmas steps- 'Folk death 95' the building levels forming the quiet/loud contrast that built and defines mogwai. Emergency trap is much like 'team handed' really. The final track 'were no here' is like 'my father my king' cut down to five minuites and delivers the same amount of enjoyment per minuite as that track does only with more metal and bite.
There are only two complaints really;
1)'I chose horses' a beautiful instrumental but the japanese adds nothing. YES it is a beautiful language but does it have to be on there (especially when SPOKEN not SUNG)?its a unnnecessary burden and the instrumentation could have been used for an R U still in 2 it? type lyric.
2) its just too short...its as if the band has a brain timer that switches on and tells them its time to stop after 5 minuites. (viz: glasgow mega snake). This has a detriment on tracks such as team handed and emergency trap. On previous albums tracks of this type have made ambient interludes that offset some of the heavier or more rythmic tones to the album. Hre they seem like filler. However the shortness and varied styles makes this a perfect album for those new to mogwai..
in that sense it is an album showing what a band is capable of doing rather than showing the band doing it.
Nonetheless it is a solid musical work and deserves to be seen as another strong offering from one of britiains most consistent alternative(?) acts.