- Audio CD (9 Jun. 2003)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: PIAS
- ASIN: B00009AHN2
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,349 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Happy Songs For Happy People CD
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Scots avant-rockers Mogwai may never quite shake their reputation as determined sonic brutalists, but a spin of Happy Songs for Happy People demonstrates that they're no longer simply set on rendering the aural equivalent of being sucked out a spaceship airlock. Although always a democracy, previously, Stuart Braithwaite had taken on the role of Mogwai's bandleader-by-proxy, his tumultuous guitar roar the outfit's most obvious hallmark. Now, however, multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns appears to fulfil this role--albeit, with much more restraint--crooning effect-heavy vocals somewhere from the wispy heart of "Hunted By a Freak", teasing out a meditative piano line on the ghostly "I Know You Are But What Am I?". Indeed, more than any other Mogwai work, sheer bliss appears to be this album's singular aim: even the amp-busting crescendo of "Ratts of the Capital" matches its dark metal pomp with chiming orchestra bells and starburst lead-guitar lines. No sudden banjo interludes or no guest vocals jar with the album's slow passage towards its conclusion--and it's a fact that plants the fear that maybe Mogwai are all played out. True, it's hard to shake the feeling that they'll never again write something as monumental as Come On Die Young. But even revolving in their ever-tightening spiral, Mogwai sound lush and powerful. Their time is not yet past. --Louis Pattison
Top Customer Reviews
But enough of that, the opener 'Hunted by a Freak' is simply a great post rock song. Here, the spindly opening riff stretches along with that practiced Mogwai uncertainty, segueing nicely into a mellifluous chorus: soon the delay pedals arrive on scene to increase the emotional fervour. Yet the intention to wig out, to simply add more, is commendably forestalled (see ‘mature Mogwai’) and instead Mogwai shift the mood to one of calm in the middle eight, where a cello weaves between clean guitar lines. This demonstrates Mogwai’s growing maturity working to their advantage, and the shift back into the chorus clinches the songs hymnal quality perfectly.
'Killing all the flies' starts of with a simple guitar riff that is evocative of REM, complete with vocoder-voice layered over the top. The song seems like it would be better suited to a live vocal, and maybe Mogwai could have given Gruff Rhys a call, who added so much to 'Dial:Revenge' on Rock Action. This is a similar sort of song, but the structure lacks any kind of punch and after a flurry of guitars mid-song, collapses away into the same tedious, skipworthy harmonics as closes ‘Kids Will be Skeletons‘.
The intermission of 'Boring Machines' is welcome and vital.Read more ›
Perhaps tellingly, the two songs that featured in the top ten of the 2003 John Peel Festive Fifty, the only two to be placed, were Hunted By A Freak and the eight-minute epic Ratts Of The Capital, as these side-openers contain the most recognisably Mogwai trademark qualities: the sinister, slow building of the soundscape, the quiet/loud/quiet passages, the tortured guitar. However, elsewhere on the record there are several subtle indications that Mogwai have plenty left to say, musically speaking, and there is more of a democratic band feel than in some of their earlier guitar-led pieces. Four of the tracks are augmented by cello or violin, and a string quartet is employed to atmospheric effect on Killing All The Flies.
As always, the titles remain enigmatic and willfully ungrammatical (Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep; Moses? I Amn't), and in a mark of the new maturity and restraint shown throughout this extremely listenable record, most of the pieces are only three or four minutes long. This is not a record that gives away all its secrets on the first listen, but rewards repeated plays. This is in no small part due to the skilful engineering led by Tony Doogan at the CaVa studios in Glasgow, but also to the collaborative efforts and musical empathy of the band themselves.
'MOSES? I AMN'T' is gloriously aphex twin-style ambience, while 'KIDS WILL BE SKELETONS' seems to revisit and perfect the territory of 'Tracy' and 'Katrien's simple melodic build from 'Young Team'. 'BORING MACHINES DISTURBS SLEEP' with it's hazy drone like background and understated vocal goes back even further, to 'tuner' from the 'Ten Rapid' collection.
Every song is a gem in its own way, as highlight after highlight unfolds in its own time. If the album seems shorter in comparison to their last albums, it is because it doesn't need to be any longer, it is perfect. This is Mogwai's masterpiece, and by the time 'RATTS OF CAPITAL' and 'STOP COMING TO MY HOUSE' have played out, you will have cheated on 'Young Team' with the new lighthearted floozy that is 'Happy Songs for Happy People'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm not a music journalist and I'm not entirely sure if I have ever consulted the amazon reader reviews when buying music as it is such a subjective area but...
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Typically ironic title for Mogwai's 2003 album, though it finds them a lot cheerier than usual. The album is one of their more accessible albums, with relatively few noisy bits and... Read morePublished on 24 April 2010 by klaher
I always thought that Mogwai would have to go a long way to beat Ten Rapid, and each subsequent release has only confirmed the high standard that they set themselves at the start. Read morePublished on 30 July 2009 by I am the Walrus!
I've only heard a few of their tracks before, and just bought this finally last week (!!), since then I've listened to it constantly - all I can say that this is now one of the... Read morePublished on 30 Mar. 2008 by Slartibartfast
If you watch channel 4 you will have heard snatches of this as it is their favourite choice for between programme breaks & trailers. Read morePublished on 29 Nov. 2007 by Lendrick
happy songs for happy people is the fourth album bu scottish post rock icons mogwai (named after the breed of little monsters in gremlins). Read morePublished on 5 Sept. 2007 by sean paul mccann