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Mogwai - Happy Songs For Happy People CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.91 | 189 ratings

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3 stars I've only been a fan of post-rock for a very short time. A couple days is all, in fact. I actually own a decent number of post-rock albums (Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, Agaetis Byrjun, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, TNT, and, of course, this one) by the big names of the genre, but before recently, none of them had really struck me (and some of them still don't). That said, I am finding myself more and more attracted to each of them, but only after I learned to love this album, Mogwai's quasi-masterpiece and the best post-rock album I know, Happy Songs For Happy People.

I honestly can't say exactly what it is that sets this album apart from the other post-rock albums, at least in terms of musical composition, but I can say why I find it particularly appealing from a personal standpoint. This album makes me feel. There it is, plain and simple. Happy Songs For Happy People masterfully evokes emotion, and that is, in my mind, hugely important for music. Sure, other post-rock makes me feel as well (Godspeed You! Black Emperor are masters of making me feel bored, to pick a random, fairly silly example), more so after I learned to Like Happy Songs For Happy People, but none (other than Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun) on a level of this album. It's hard to describe in words the effect this album has on me, but I assure you it is desirable.

The music itself is similar to the other post-rock I know, but with one major difference. The songs re generally shorter and the build-ups faster, so it might appeal to prog listeners who don't appreciate the tediously long build-ups of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The climaxes are excellent, characteristic of post-rock, and the band builds up to them perfectly, for the most part. I like to joke that post-rock consists solely of build-ups and climaxes, and, by that reasoning, this album is a masterpiece. The drumming on the album, which goes against all I love in drumming (I like relatively fast drumming with variation, but this is slow with little variation), somehow manages to captivate me, perfectly setting the tone for the rest of the music. Ratts of the Capital is the best song on the album, with a wonderful but brief build-up leading into the most emotive song climax I have ever heard. The entire climax lasts over two minutes, and it's not any ordinary climax. There's the original climax, and then within that, there is another climax, and with that, there is a THIRD climax. And every second of it is perfect. Hunted By a Freak and Killing All the Flies are other good examples of the power of Mogwai's music, the former with a short build-up, mini-climax, short build-up, big climax, short ending format that works perfectly.

Despite all of the praise I've heaped on the album, it's not a masterpiece for several reasons. First off, the song Moses? I amn't works around an absolutely stellar main theme, but then fails to go anywhere with it, meaning that, while it is still an excellent track, it has an air of unfulfilled potential and leaves me wanting. The following song, Kids will be Skeletons, I just haven't been able to warm up to, perhaps because it never truly climaxes in five and a half minutes. Also, on the last song, which is excellent on the whole, I feel the sampling of Happy Tree Friends music really ruins the entire mood the album created right at the end (for those who don't know, Happy Tree Friends is an internet cartoon where cute little beings die in greusome ways).

While not a masterpiece, this is still a must-have album in the post-rock domain. It is able to make the listener feel like few other albums I know. As for what it makes the listener feel, I expect that this varies from person to person. For me, it was simply a mad rush of emotions that increased with every passing second, ranging from sheer bliss to utter despair to pure fury, all overlapping and coursing through my veins, propelled not by my heartbeats, but by each beat of the music. That is how this album affected me, but even that description falls short of doing the album justice. One last thing I will mention before concluding this review is that the album is better when listened to all the way through. The entire album, even the softer parts, pounds with the same intensity as the aggressive half of NEU!, only harnessed in a different manner. 4 stars, and recommended.

Pnoom! | 3/5 |


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