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Editorial Review

Album review: "Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will"

Despite a new album called “Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will,” Mogwai is not a hardcore band. During a career that spans seven albums and more than a decade, the Scottish five-piece is known for music that is largely instrumental and atmospheric, built with effects-driven guitar and spacey keyboard tones rather than hardcore’s accelerated musical thrusts.

At its best, Mogwai creates arcing compositions that shuffle between idle noise and dense walls of sound; at its worst, however, the soundscapes meander about and can be, well, boring. This sonic dichotomy is on full display on the first half of “Hardcore.”

“White Noise” and “Mexican Grand Prix” move briskly, unveiling new elements at a deliberate pace, resulting in a slow build that feels both manic and exhilarating. “Death Rays,” however, is so minimalist, and plods along at such a grueling pace, that the wall of guitar fuzz near the four-minute mark feels less like a payoff and more like a signifier heralding the song’s end.

“San Pedro,” the album’s fifth track, amounts to a straightforward guitar-and-drums jam that doesn’t feel particularly inspired. Some of the momentum from the opening tracks resurfaces on the album’s second half, showing that Mogwai is still a band that can create the otherworldy, the ethereal and — even if only for a few brief moments — the beautiful.

--Brandon Weigel, April 15, 2011