Mogwai are now nearing their quarter century. They’ve done the live album, the art installations, the TV show soundtrack, and even followed Zidane for a football match. Hell, Auto Rock almost made Miami Vice watchable. However, they’re also at the stage where any new work risks either sounding like self-parody, more-of-the-same, or pretty much like contemporary output from those they influenced. Thankfully, ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun mostly lands in the square marked “same old”. With Mogwai, that isn’t a pejorative statement.
Being a Scottish band who can’t resist adding in humour to undercut their seriousness, the puntastic Coolverine opens the album, the synth patterns, guitar lines and overdriven drums showing they’re still sounding dependably like they’re the go-to band for brooding hero shots in future Michael Mann movies. Party In The Dark, with its vocals echoing off onto a solid drum beat and synth lines, will either inspire delight or shrugs. The reaction will depend on whether or not you like We Are All Made Of Stars-era Moby.
Despite a template that is essentially a more upmarket slow-fast-slow-fast, it’s not all bangers for the art school set. The Eno-esque aka 47 takes the pace down and is an excellent mood piece which flows nicely into the Explosions In The Sky electric strumming of 20 Size – a distraction before a mid-song wig-out brings the noise. The reverb-heavy guitar lines of 1000 Foot Face recalls early The Verve (back when they were just Verve), whilst Don’t Believe The Fife carries echoes of Disasterpeace’s Hyper Light Drifter OST.
In fact, the more aggressive numbers prove there is some redundancy here. Crossing The Road Material sounds like a slightly more polished version of production music tat stuck into daytime TV homeshow montages, whilst Brain Filler dulls the ears and comes off like a rehearsal cut from their excellent Les Revenants soundtrack. Yet elsewhere – and as always with Mogwai – there’s a deliberateness to the attack and retreat of the rhythm section and a beauty underpinning the insistence of the melodies. This is best exemplified by the closing title track, a sublime slice of gorgeousness that of course is surely coming to a Michael Mann movie near you.
Every Country’s Sun is released on 1st September via Rock Action.