Mogwai – Every Country's Sun
On their ninth studio album, Mogwai combine elements from across their career into a monumental whole
In the last few years, Mogwai have shed a guitarist of twenty years, released their first compilation album, and played a series of rapturously received anniversary shows at the Barrowlands. This spirit of reflection bleeds into Every Country’s Sun, their latest effort, which draws and borrows themes and styles from across their career to build a whole as monumental as anything they’ve achieved so far.
Largely, the album takes a step back from the krautrock-influenced, synthesised aesthetic of Rave Tapes in favour of bigger, rockier soundscapes reminiscent of The Hawk is Howling or Rock Action (indeed, this is their first collaboration with producer Dave Fridmann since that album), particularly on lead single Coolverine and the climactic title track.
Party in the Dark is the poppiest thing they’ve ever done, a close cousin to 2014’s Teenage Exorcists. The chorus is – and you might want to sit down for this – an almost Biffy Clyro-esque singalong. Synths and guitars dance around each other on this album, swapping back and forth between background and prominence throughout, particularly on Crossing the Road Material with its euphoric, uplifting payoff, and aka 47 is among the most ambient works the band has ever produced.
Hallmarks of the band abound throughout the album – a sinister riff which leads off into nowhere here, a familiar chord progression over splashy cymbals there. Old Poisons sounds too much like Batcat for comfort, but otherwise the album pushes familiar ideas in fruitful new directions. Battered at a Scramble is conventionally heavy in a way Mogwai haven’t attempted in recent years, all keyboards and crunching riffs and wailing solos. If their Atomic and Before the Flood soundtrack work suggested Mogwai might be mellowing in their middle age, they were misleading. Their largest ever show at The Hydro beckons, and Every Country’s Sun leaves no doubt in the mind – they are ready. [Corrie Innes]
Listen to: Party in the Dark, Don't Believe the Fife, Every Country's Sun