Reviews Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Mogwai

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Mogwai is a band that is extremely difficult to like. Though they are one of the cornerstone bands of the post-rock genre, their discography lacks a lot of the consistent strength found with acts such as Explosions in the Sky or Long Distance Calling. Don't misunderstand me; they have released some fine albums (Mogwai Young Team and Ten Rapid in particular). Overall, however, their output is decidedly mediocre. I guess what I'm saying is that expectations were low for their latest effort, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

Unfortunately, Hardcore Will Never Die turned out to be almost exactly as predicted. It has its share of stronger points, sure, but overall the album turned out to be on the weak side. A lot of the pieces are too floaty to really go anywhere, and a lot of them struggle to be anything other than a bore. There are an assortment of enjoyable riffs and motifs amongst the chaff, but Mogwai manages to take them and construct rather aimless pieces. For example, “Mexican Grand Prix” is entirely too repetitive, even for post-rock standards. It has almost no musical or dynamic movement whatsoever, making it an extremely static listen. “Rano Pano” winds up sounding nothing short of obnoxious, especially with its overused distortion and bland melody. And though “Letters to the Metro” has some strong and enjoyable melodies in it, the piece itself manages to be extremely weak.

That's not to say everything on this album is bad. While I wouldn't say the writing is completely perfect, there are a few winners to be found here. “How to Be a Werewolf” is bursting with fantastic riffing and soloing, and the opener “White Noise” in particular is an extremely enthralling piece of music, building a perfect crescendo without becoming too repetitive. The closer “You're Lionel Richie” is also one of the finer pieces on the album, if only for having a bit deeper composition to it than its album brethren. The heavy dynamic contrast really makes it much more interesting than a lot of the other tracks. A few of the really good pieces on Hardcore Will Never Die are also unapologetic, straightforward rockers. “San Pedro” is a delicious slice of aggressive rock, and “George Square Thatcher Death Party” is also surprisingly good for an admittedly hokey alternarock song.

The special two-disc version of the album contains the 23-minute piece “Music for a Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain),” which was recorded for an art installation by Douglas Gordon and Olaf Nicoli. Given that it is background music, it's naturally a very ambient piece, though taken on its own it is perhaps just a bit too long for how little musical involvement it has. However, it feels unfair to judge this song divorced from the rest of its work, even if the band did release it to stand on its own merits. As a side-note to the album, it's passable, and it actually makes for a rather nice coda.

I don't really understand why Mogwai's catalogue doesn't measure up to their quality as a band. It feels like they should be releasing good albums with more consistency, but a lot of their work has turned out less than satisfying. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will will definitely please anyone who was satisfied with the rest of Mogwai's discography. However, if you are someone looking for something with a bit more substance to it, you will likely be disappointed. It's not a terrible album, and it is still somewhat enjoyable to listen to, but it feels like Mogwai should be putting out a lot better than merely average albums.

6.0 / 10Sarah
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