Mogwai - Happy Songs For Happy People

Alex Worsnip 06/03/2003

Rating: 4/5

It's an obviously ironic title. Mogwai have always specialised in long, melodramatic, noise-fests and spacey, experimental post-rock. Here, they lean more towards the latter, approaching, at some points, sheer aural bliss, as on opener 'Hunted By A Freak' on which a blinding yet simple indie guitar riff expands into layers of beautiful, lush sound. For anyone who thought Belle & Sebastian and Travis were as complex as Scottish indie music got, they need a listen to this. Even a simple instrumental like 'Moses I Amn't conveys gorgeousness, a spine-tingling cello line leading its minimalist soundscape. Even on the few non-instrumental tracks, vocals flit in and out, usually computer-modified, and more of a textural instrument while chiming guitars carry the melody.

Sadly, the huge, distorted guitar sound of Stuart Braithwaite is largely absent, so when it enters halfway through the brilliant 'Killing All The Flies' it is a glorious moment. It's soon gone though, so we must turn to album standout 'Ratts of the Capital' which is like Mogwai of old, a guitar-lover's song, seemingly exploring every texture possible on the instrument and flaunting Mogwai's art-metal influence; or closer 'Stop Coming To My House', simply an industrial feast of white noise. The balance they provide make 'Happy Songs For Happy People' up with Mogwai's best, if not quite reaching the towering, 5-star heights of 'Come On Die Young', and probably to be one of the year's best, too.