Mogwai: Rave Tapes – album review
Release Date: 20/1/2014
Louder Than War’s Simon Tucker sheds some light on ‘Rave Tapes’ the forthcoming eighth studio album from post-rock legends, Mogwai, a band, who by rights, need little introduction.
Mogwai are one of those rare bands in the UK that are consistent in the quality of their output and who are in a constant state of evolution. Each release sees them explore new territory yet there always remains at the heart of their music the quality and textures that have made them one of our most vital bands since their debut release Mogwai Young Team back in 1997. Renowned for their mastery of space and volume, Mogwai have continued to enthrall and excite with their recorded works and their often transcendental live shows. Rave Tapes is the group’s eighth studio album proper after 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will and their first since their glorious soundtrack for French TV thriller Les Revenants. The quality of these last two releases is undeniable but with Rave Tapes, Mogwai have delivered an absolute classic that easily ranks as one of the bands strongest set of songs to date even equaling their much hailed 1999 masterpiece Come on Die Young.
The sound of Rave Tapes is much more electronic and harsh than on other Mogwai releases but the production, by Paul Savage and the group themselves, never allows the machines to take away from the heart that lies within this emotive music. The best example of which is barnstorming first single Remurdered. This track is a perfect encapsulation of the albums whole ethos and feel. It slithers, and snakes. Shimmies and snarls. Warmly received when it was released, Remurdered is the sound of a band just oozing confidence and plenty of attitude. It builds and builds until the whole band attack the listener at once with tribal drumming and military attack. It is also worth pointing out that the tune has a natural swing to it making it incredibly danceable (I witnessed this quality first hand at the ATP: End of an Era 2 gig which the band closed including, bravely, five tracks from this album).
For those of you who loved the original Mogwai sound there is still plenty of it here. It’s there in the screeching guitars that underpin Simon Ferocious (the band’s knack of great titles is still, I’m happy to report, alive and thriving). It is there in the post-punk stutter guitars of Master Card, which sounds like the band are leaving blood on their instruments they are attacking it so hard, and it is there on the lighter touches in No Medicine For Regret which contains some beautiful melodies that keep shining through the fuzz-guitar riffs. Oh yes, those guitar riffs. No one makes a guitar sound like Mogwai. They have a way of making the instruments soar that no other band can touch and they speak far more to the emotional core of a person than any soppy indie my-girlfriend’s-gone chart hit posers. When Mogwai deal with emotions they deal with the real stuff, the core, the place where we tend to hide our true feelings/pains/desires. For an album that has electronics seeping through it, the human heart is where it will find its audience.
Rave Tapes is a must-buy (the deluxe edition box-set with vinyl and T-shirt etc looks particularly stunning) and kicks off 2014 with a helluva bang.
It’s going to be a great year….