Not sure if this is so much a review as a chance to ramble…
I’ve been a Mogwai fan for thirteen years now. The first album I bought of theirs was 1999’s Come On Die Young; not based on having heard any of their music, rather, my late teenage mind was a bit engrossed by the cover photo of a guy who looked like a very anaemic version of me (I have often bought albums for stranger reasons in the past).
Like many albums and bands I’ve come to love, I didn’t think very much of it at first, in fact I had dismissed it as some guys noodling around (all the bands I listened to up ’til that point always had a singer and traditional song structures), but I was moved to listen to it a second time, then a third… And you get the picture.
Mogwai are one of those bands who don’t really put out disappointing albums. They sort of play it safe by sticking to what they do best and slowly evolving their sound than revolutionising it. If I were to pick my favourite period of the band though, it would probably ape many others: 1996-2000. This was the pure guitar era typified by mostly quiet to extremely loud and aggressive songs. However, that does not mean I haven’t enjoyed their introduction of electronic elements and more subtler dynamic shifts. In fact it was probably necessary for them to not be seen as a one-trick pony, part of the reason why they still seem to command respect and have done as well as can be expected from a band who don’t play the radio pop game.
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will continues in that vein, but perhaps what makes it another step up is that, even though this is still instrumental music, most of the songs seem to have a sort of pop structure to them. Many tracks are uplifting than melancholy. “Lead” guitarist Stuart Braithwaite described the album somewhere as something like ‘happy New Order pop songs’. Perhaps he was taking the mick a bit, but there are a clutch of songs that sound a bit like post ’89 New Order.
A special edition of the album features an extra CD with a 23min track, which if I’m not mistaken was not written for the album but originally commissioned for some sort of gallery. At this length, this is the longest ‘song’ Mogwai have ever written, and they have written ones only slightly less than that in the past. I wouldn’t recommend putting this track on straight after the main album as you’d end up feeling OD’d on the band, but on it’s own it’s good for going to sleep to – I don’t mean that in a bad way.
I could give you a track-by-track analysis as I occasionally do, but I feel that’s sort of pointless with Mogwai as they write albums where the mood of one track can describe the other, and the mood is uplifting. My subtitle for it would be “don’t ever worry about today because one day you will be dead.”