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Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.69 | 100 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The latest (to date) studio album from the Scottish rockers of MOGWAI offers another heady mix of raw emotion and icy intellect: an irresistible combination to armchair egg-headbangers like myself.

As with earlier albums the music, all of it instrumental, is suitably moody in an upbeat sort of way (not a contradiction with this band). It might have all sounded way too solemn if not for the tongue-in-cheek absurdity of the song titles: "The Sun Smells Too Loud"; "I Love You, I'm Going to Blow Up Your School"; and (my favorite) the powerful album opener "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead". The music itself is never less than impeccable, but the titles might be the best thing here.

There are, as any fan would expect, moments of true musical beauty, even during the album's harsher moments. "Batcat" is a good example of a quintessential Mogwai thrash: aggressive and gloomy and altogether invigorating, at the same time. But the Post Rock label continues to baffle me. This isn't post- anything; the album is a model of up-to-the-minute guitar aesthetics, no less rebellious than anything released in the 1960s (even by dead Jim Morrison). And it sure ain't Math Rock, unless your level of arithmetic stops after counting up to four (or occasionally six).

The tempos don't vary much; the chords are rarely surprising; and the contrasts are limited to quiet and loud (and when you begin with one you can invariably expect to end with the other). But it all works, in the same way that the music of a band like OZRIC TENTACLES works in the parallel universe of psychedelia: with integrity and passion (it likewise helps that there isn't any singing to distract attention away from the substance of the music).

Fans of longer standing than myself can nitpick the differences between this and earlier albums, but why bother? It's enough to simply acknowledge another strong effort from one of the more consistent bands around today.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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