Saturday, February 26, 2011

review- mogwai- 'hardcore will never die, but you will' Take TWO

I felt that I had to rewrite this review as I realised that I’d broken my cardinal rule of album review writing- always listen to a record at least three times before sitting down to write about it. My theory is that my favourite records over the years have occasionally been the types of albums that don’t pull you in instantly on the first or even the second listen. Deerhunter’s ‘Halcyon Digest’ was like this, My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Isn’t Anything,’ Cocteau Twins’ ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’- all records I love to death and all records that I didn’t get at all the first two times I listened to them. I’d have to say that ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, but you Will’ is like this too. While it still isn’t among my favourite Mogwai records, I’d at least place it in line with ‘Rock Action’- it’s reaching for new territory, succeeding most of the time but definitely with a few missteps along the way.

My third listen was a bit of a revelation- which is what often happens with records like this and thus the reason for the ‘three spins’ minimum rule. If whatever’s hiding in there doesn’t jump out at you after three listens it’s either not there or you weren’t meant to hear it. Basically I think that the lead-off track is brilliant and belongs in the class with all of the great Mogwai lead-off tracks (Mogwai are particularly adept at choosing a lead-off track- I’m beginning to think that they must deliberately work on these lead-off tracks specifically to BE lead-off tracks). ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ is still objectionable to me, but mainly only because of the vocals- I feel like if it were just an instrumental I would like it more. ‘Rano Pano’ is a track I’ve warmed up to- it sounds loping and bizarre to me now, but also the evidence of the band not taking themselves too seriously and simply having a good time. ‘Death Rays’ revealed itself to me, as did ‘How to be a Werewolf.’ I found that the excellent ‘Letters to the Metro’ had always been one of my favourite tracks on here but suffered from being sandwiched between my two least-favourite tracks (I still find ‘San Pedro’ and ‘George Thatcher Square Death Party’ to be a buzz-kill and the victim of annoying vocals respectively).

I’m still a huge fan of the final three songs on the album, which I actually find to be stronger since they are essentially the moody tracks on a very ‘up’ sounding album for Mogwai. I’m so enamored of this album that I am definitely going to buy it on vinyl now and I might even reconsider the prospect of going to see them play at the Metro. In their overall canon I wouldn’t rate this album as one of my favourites- although I also don’t really have a list. This is probably as close as they’re likely to come to making an album as perfectly sequenced and fresh-sounding as ‘Happy Songs for Happy People’- which also took several listens for me to grasp how great it was. I'm not afraid to come out and admit when I'm wrong about something. *ding*

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