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Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

I probably should've told Now Then's editor this before agreeing to review Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, but I don't think I've ever actually listened to Mogwai before. I'd heard of them, of course, but to the best of my knowledge not a single song of theirs had ever graced my ears, although I was relieved to find out that there's a sizeable musical difference between them and Moguai (with a 'u'), the pretty duff German tech-house producer.

However, my gratitude that I wouldn't be listening to an album packed with tunes designed to soundtrack men wearing knock-off white Wayfarers downing knock-off WKDs on a Saturday night was soon tainted by the rapidly growing suspicion that fans of Mogwai and the surrounding post-rock scene probably don't take too kindly to uninitiated amateurs waving their ill-informed critiques in the band's direction, like a blind-folded child standing in a closet trying to stab a dangling pig with what he thinks is a lightsaber, but is actually a two-inch screwdriver. Even now, I break in to a cold sweat as I envisage a die-hard Mogwai fan recognising me in the street and berating me in a mainly instrumental and epically soundscaped manner, before a legion of other followers pin me down and post a barrage of derogatory comments in the Shoutbox that I keep cellotaped to my left knee. With this in mind, please be aware that this review (when it eventually becomes a review, rather than a lengthy premeditated apology) will be a newcomer to Mogwai's verdict on this album itself, and the only mentions of Mr Beast or Come On Die Young you'll find will be in the sentence you've just finished reading.

So after all that, guess what? The album's great. Whether or not it does justice to Mogwai's past achievements I don't know, but as a piece of music it is generally very rewarding. The gentle chattering and contemplative guitars that introduce opener 'White Noise' act like a woodland creature that has just emerged, blinking in the sunlight from its burrow, cautiously eyeing up the world around it, before the track gradually builds up the bravery to explore further afield with some chiming strokes that linger over an ever-building crescendo. This then submits to the unrelenting click beat of 'Mexican Grand Prix', a track strewn with hushed vocals that tread alongside the backing instruments like a horse cantering through a sepia beach scene, choppy waves lapping against it all the while. This and the third track, the industrialist grit of 'Rano Pano', are two highlights of the record, along with the slightly more traditional rock sensibilities of 'San Pedro' and the bass-driven contained eruption that is 'George Square Thatcher Death Party', which probably features the best vocals on the album.

While there's a good depth in terms of quality throughout the record, I do feel that, as an album, it doesn't quite flow as well it could do, with some tracks sitting uncomfortably next to each other, but overall this seems an accomplished offering. Something that struck me as I listened to HWNDBYW as a Mogwai novice (oh, did I mention I hadn't heard them before?) was the relative shortness and accessibility of the tracks, as I'd always placed the band as purveyors of more expansive odysseys. Whether this is a good or bad sign for the record and band's direction, I'll leave that to those in the know to debate. Me, I'm off to listen to some Rihanna.