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A Magazine for Sheffield

Les Revenants

Les Revenants is the new creepy French series about resurrected loved ones, so who better to score such a story as the masters of atmosphere, Mogwai.

There is a palpable sense of dread, an ominous cloud hanging over certain songs, which to be fair, in a series about resurrected people, isn’t exactly surprising. Yet the band manage to balance the dread with joy, adding shimmering guitars and gentle warm rhythms, giving the whole affair a mix of the uplifting, the melancholy and the downright menacing.

Tracks like ‘The Huts’ have subtle echoes of previous works - the distant wails from ‘Sine Wave’, the brooding piano chords of ‘Auto Rock’ - while ‘Whisky Time’ exemplifies the mastery of melody that Mogwai have become known for, interweaving piano and bass seamlessly. Tragically it is only a fleeting minute and a half long. The longest track, ‘What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?’, is a bewildering contrast to everything else on the album - a bizarre, whimsical sing-song about death. Sadly all those minutes seem almost wasted on such whimsy.

There is a longing for crescendo in this album. Instead the songs rumble or float along without much variation. Of course writing soundtracks is different to writing a standalone album, but every song feels confined to a certain scene or emotion, rather than being able to breach into the vastness that Mogwai excel in. Even the soundtrack to Zidane had more of an edge. Perhaps it’s due to the band being pushed into writing the soundtrack before the series was created, essentially creating the scenes and moods themselves without really knowing what purpose the music would serve.

There are glimmers of something bigger lurking in this album - the distant hiss of static, like a waterfall, that runs under the hypnotic drums of ‘Portugal’, and the haunting bells of ‘Fridge Magic’. Every song brings something new to the table, but it never feels like enough of a kick to thrust the album into life.

Les Revenants is a conflicted album. It shows off Mogwai’s adeptness at atmosphere and melody, but ends up trapped by its intended use. There is vast potential on this album, and as the shape of things to come it’s incredibly exciting, but sadly the punch never comes, and instead the album drifts aimlessly to its conclusion.