The young team have grown a little older and reticent over the course of their XX releases and the symphonic post-rock surge of opener I’m Jim Morrison, I’m dead sounds possessed of a stately weariness.
Buzz saw guitars churn and erupt on Batcat, spiralling up and down in predictably quiet, loud, quiet, ecstatically loud ways but the complete absence of vocals, or the field recordings that leant Come On Die Young its deathless atmospherics, makes for a bleak listen, chilly psychedelic peaks and troughs.
Danphe and the Brain features needlepoint feedback and a bass pulse before yielding to a storm surge of guitars, in turn over written by single notes manipulated by the volume pedal and the patter of a ticking drum. As if Pink Floyd had become the love that dare not speak its name it falls silent before uttering a word. Wordless narratives with only the most desultory of titles to provide clues, a lot of this fast becomes undifferentiated. Local authority is similarly plaintive and mute. A glockenspiel drifts across a faintly haunted Western soundscape, chords chime, progressions come and go listlessly never quiet consolidating. A repetition emerges, disappears.
The Sun Smells to Loud is more optimistic, almost frisky and definitely a stand out track. In a nod to 70s West Coast rock it climbs towards the sun and comes of something of a relief. Chugging along with a dirtied up six note riff repeated ad nauseam until it lifts its skirts and reveals an electronic pattern beneath.
For all its austere Caledonian beauty, the Hawk is Howling has its longeurs. The piano that leads into Kings Meadow is tender and listless and meanders through icicles of tuned percussion before giving up the ghost and this recipe, of quiet intriguing, sparse intros growing into dense sheets of guitar, is repeated a little too often.
Whilst the whole quiet, loud, quiet, loud formula has been a somewhat unfairly overstated accusation, it’s not until the very end and The Precipice that Mogwai unleash the sheer violence of their sound and whilst it’s catastrophic it comes a little too late.
01. I’m Jim Morrison, I’m dead
03. Danphe and The Brain
04. Local Authority
05. The Sun Smells Too Loud
06. Kings Meadow
07. I Love you, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School
08. Scotland’s Shame
09. Thank You Space Expert
10. The Precipice