Sound: If you're looking for ambience and a dreamy mood via lush instrumental textures, there are few bands that do it as capably as Scottish post-rockers Mogwai. The band's ironically titled seventh album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will features 10 tracks that almost always utilize a wall of sound to create atmosphere. A few songs do feature hushed, almost completely muffled vocals, but that choice of mixing works to the album's advantage. Mogwai is not for the traditionally minded musically speaking, but the niche that the quintet sticks with is unique enough to keep one's interest.
As in the past, Mogwai allows its compositions to explore a wide variety of sounds and both the piano/keyboards and guitars become the central focus at various points. The opener White Noise almost feels like a new age piece at times due to its piano-driven mellowness, with the album quickly transitioning into Mexican Grand Prix, which features subtle-yet-creepy vocals that are put way back in the back of the mix. At the other end of the spectrum is the fuzz-drenched Rano, Rano, which is one of many songs that you have to wonder just how many tracks/layers were laid down in the studio process.
There are moments on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will when the highly textured mix is scaled back a bit. Letters to the Metro and You're Lionel Richie (at least the first half) are actually fairly stripped down in Mogwai terms, with the true sound of the guitars coming through. It goes to show that this is a band that doesn't necessarily need to rely on effects to capture its trademark sound. In the end, liking this album will probably depend on whether or not you can deal with the instrumental mellowness that embodies each of the 10 tracks. // 8
Lyrics: This album does feature only a couple of tracks that have words uttered and you can barely understand them at all. Mogwai don't write the songs to deliver a verbal message (at least in this case), as its primary focus does tend to be on the musical arrangements. There's so much going on between the keys the guitar and the percussion that it would almost seem like overkill to add singing every song. // 8
Overall Impression: If you enjoy lush, dreamy soundscapes, this is the band and album for you. One can imagine that listening to Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will through headphones/ear buds probably adds a whole other dimension to the experience so definitely give that a try if Mogwai is your style. The creativity in the arrangements is certainly the highlight of the latest record, but do prepared to feel like you're in a slightly hypnotic state by the final song. // 8