5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Good, but not Mr. Best,
This review is from: Mr Beast (Audio CD)
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