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Mogwai - Mr. Beast CD (album) cover

MR. BEAST

Mogwai

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.72 | 86 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Talk about miracles.

I've finally found a post-rock album I can hear without needing a pillow (or a pill, for that matter). And it's by a band which I found rather boring the first time I tried it out. But I've read the reviews which said that the album I had heard from them was the worst one, I re-listened to it and found that maybe, maybe there was some room for hope, and ventured into their post-waters again. And surprise! I really liked what I found.

What has won me over about MOGWAI's "Mr. Beast" is that it condenses all the good things about post-rock in short, 4-5 minute songs and gets rid of the endless wavering of bands like GY!BE or SIGUR ROS. I've said it before: what other post-rock did to me was it bored me to death. I said that there were some interesting things going on (mostly the clean-guitar work and textures, the atmosphere) but complained about the useless (in my opinion) tendency to repeat, and repeat, and repeat weak ideas over and over again. This is not the case with this album. MOGWAI has produced a 10-song collection that is easy to digest as every song is short enough not to get boring and also interesting enough to hold my attention for the total length of it. While "Come On Die Young" (the other album I've listened to by this band) had a lot of problems, it also had this short-song structure, and that was what made me come back to the band in the first place.

I can say I probably would've liked other post-rock albums much more if they contained shorter songs as does this one, but there are other problems that those bands had, that "Mr. Beast" resolves, in my view.

One of those problems is the lack of change in both mood and tempo in all the post-rock I had heard before. Throughout entire records, I never saw a single change in the speed of the music and in the mood of the music. 50+ minutes of the same slow, dragging, depressing sounds were too much for me. MOGWAI is different now, even if it wasn't then. "Come On Die Young" was marred by the same same-mood, same-tempo flaw of other bands, but Mr. Beast brings on a refreshing change: here we have a collection of diverse songs, some faster, some slower, some that feel depressing (this is post-rock after all) but some that actually sound optimistic. I can't believe I'm saying that but it's true. A few of the tracks are actually light.

That wouldn't mean a thing if the music was weak. But it's not. The guitar-texturing is here again but shining so much brighter now that they've been given good material to work over. Some electronica here, some hard-rock there, some atmospheric passages, some ambience passages, the music entertains all the way through and mood and gives this listener a new hope for this until-now impossible-to-understand genre.

The musicians are very capable and I have to give them a recognition few would even believe I did: as much as I love progressive metal and also symphonic prog, I'm usually not much into instrumental albums in any of those genres. I have the ocassional ROINE STOLT album or the splendid LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT duo, but other bands like PLANET X or solo outputs by artists like SHERINIAN have left me dry. I just can't enjoy metal or symphonic prog as much without vocals as I can with vocals. The complete OPPOSITE with post-rock. I enjoy instrumental pieces (as long as they're short, pun intended) much more than actual songs. More so when the examples I have of post-rock singers are so abismal and cataclysmic as SIGUR ROS' voice.

While this may not be a post-rock purist favorite album, it's clearly the best I've heard so far. For a few moments at the beginning of the opus, I was in awe at the possibility of giving a post-rock album 5 stars. Some tracks in Mr. Beast are weaker than others, there's a couple that actually brought back memories of past post-rock-related tragedies, but pieces like the three that open the album (Auto Rock, Glasgow Mega-Snake and Acid Food, specially the excellent first one) make me believe that maybe I've found one band in this genre that I can truly call a GOOD BAND.

Highly recommended, specially for those people who don't like post-rock for the reasons I mentioned above, but think there's some light in the end of the repetition/depression tunnel.

The T | 4/5 |

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