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Album Review
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
by Mogwai

Rock Action

Review Date
11th February 2011
Reviewed by
Michael Harvey

Mogwai have had a long career, debuting in 1997 with the majestic opus Young Team, one of those albums that defines an era and somehow transcends it, defining the oft-maligned and elusive genre known as "post-rock" with an effortless and casual indifference to any prevailing trends of the time. Almost fifteen years on, it's still a thrilling listen, full of drama and bombast, epic crescendos and ear-blistering noise, and passages of ambient prettiness that make the huge shifts in volume all the more startling. Since then they have released a bunch of albums that expand on the initial template to varying degrees of success - 1999's melodic Come On Die Young; the experimentation of 2001's Rock Action; and an increasingly heavier tact on Happy Songs For Happy People, Mr Beast, and 2008's The Hawk Is Howling. For all their expansion and experimentation, there is a quintessential and recognisable element that pervades all the aforementioned releases and their new one Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

Indeed, the music contained within offers various shades of Mogwai that even casual listeners who have heard a couple of their albums will immediately recognise. Opening cut "White Noise" starts boldly out with a chiming guitar line and cyclical drumming, buoyed by some soaring keys. This is hardly a new leap for the band (see "Sine Wave" off Rock Action). This is the frustrating crux of largely instrumental music based on linear chord progressions - and in Mogwai's case, the returns are diminishing since they nailed it so well on tracks like "Mogwai Fear Satan" - how do you not repeat yourself? The only leap of imagination they demonstrate on this album is a newfound embrace of krautrock ("Mexico Grand Prix"), which essentially makes them sound like Trans Am (vocoder and all!). When you hear the band hit on a classic Mogwai melody on songs like "Rano Pano" and "Letters to the Metro" and proceed to play them to death, you wonder whether this album is totally necessary. The fact I can write "classic Mogwai melody" and fans would know what I mean is probably proof of this. Echoes of Trans Am appear again on "George Square Thatcher Death Party", the bottom heavy rhythm section directing proceedings with a solid groove. Closing number "You're Lionel Richie" brings back a bit of the bravado of yore, yoked to a riff that recalls latter-day Earth.

Name-dropping aside, overall it seems that Mogwai are somewhat bereft of ideas. By all accounts, their live shows are nothing short of monumental, and in comparison the records would seem somewhat lacklustre. At this stage in the game, Mogwai are probably content to release albums and tour as much for themselves as for their fans. Which leads me to an interesting point - would anyone go to see them play live to hear the 100th new iteration of any of the ideas spread across their albums, or just to experience that part in "Like Herod" when the distortion comes on and it feels like you are being kicked in the balls with volume? They should have called this one Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Get Boring.


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