Mogwai - Mr. Beast
Alex Worsnip 06/03/2006
The hype surrounding this album is not inconsiderable. Alan McGee says it's the best art-rock album he's been involved with since Loveless. For a 5th album, that's some serious anticipation. But the hype is justified. 'Mr Beast' might just be Mogwai's best album yet, confirmed their status as truly the greatest post-rock band ever to date. There's an urgency here, an immediacy, that's been lacking from some of their ealier work. The guitar tones are direct, clear. The production explodes out of the speakers. And often, the songs are some of their heaviest since the days of 'Like Herod', except less muted by the confines of limited production. 'Glasgow Mega-Snake' and 'We're No Here' in particular display the metal influence that's always been bubbling below the surface.
Following on from strides made on 'Rock Action' and 'Happy Songs For Happy People' they're getting better and better and the art of the compact - packaging their songs into fast-moving distillations of everything that's great about them, not simply relying on texture and build. They're willing to break the meat and two veg mould, too - electronics are on prominent display on several tracks, and the gorgeous 'Friend Of The Night' features dark, heart-stirring, dramatic piano. 'Acid Food', meanwhile, represents the unlikely but beguiling marriage of minimalist electronica and alt-country-style guitars. The most interesting track, though, is 'Travel Is Dangerous', which features proper vocals and even a chorus, and almost verges into angst-rock territory, but remains buoyed up by the sheer quality of both the song and its arrangement.
For what it is looking to do, this album is simply faultless. So many post-rock bands sound the same, and every time that Mogwai come back they just remind you how it's really done. Every track here is daring, inventive and presents a soundscape that sounds nothing less than perfect in its own way. It's not pretentious - it's extremely immediate and accessible, and for anyone with a soul, it's bound to stir it.