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Mogwai - Come On Die Young CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

2.91 | 75 ratings

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3 stars Mogwai's second full length album "Come On Die Young" (released in 1999) was the first album to feature Barry Burns who had worked with the band in the past and was made one of the core members. This would be the last time that Mogwai's line up would change until 2015. The critics were a bit harsh with the album after they raved over the debut album, mostly because the sound was less intense. Mogwai wanted to create a sparser sound for this album inspired by Nick Drake, The Cure, Slint and Low. The critics were not so happy about the change. However, the album proves to be a step in the right direction in the long run as it sees the band not settling in on a single sound, but branching out and trying out new styles.

The original plan for the album was to be quite shorter, but the record label talked them into including more tracks that they had recorded during the recording process, so the album ended up having a total length of over an hour, 67 minutes to be a little more exact. The first track "Punk Rock" is a pensive track featuring a simple electric guitar playing while Iggy Pop talks in the background. This speech is taken from an interview done in March of 1977, about punk rock, of course. This is followed by "Cody", which is slow and pensive also, but has a steady beat behind the guitar. The track also includes distinct vocals, where most of Mogwai's material that features vocals that are subdued and mixed down deep so that they are almost not heard, but more like becoming as an instrument. This track also has a distinct melody, a slide guitar and more accessible than normal. The melody is nice and the feeling is quite relaxed, a lovely sound.

"Helps Both Ways" originally featured John Madden doing a commentary during a game in 1998, but this was replaced with another commentary later because the use was unauthorized. While this commentary plays softly in the background, almost like a TV playing, the guitars, synths and flute play along slowly and pensively to the beat. Again, it's a nice, slow track, that stays mellow throughout. After this point, the music continues in the same slow or moderately slow style with pensive guitars, synths and occasional flute with differing effects come in. The melodies get less interesting and the songs start sounding a bit same-y and lackadaisical. It's not bad if you just want to chill and float along, but it doesn't invoke the emotion of "Young Team" or some of their other, later albums.

"May Nothing But Happiness Come Through Your Door" finally stretches the length to exceed 8 minutes, but continues with that same feeling. However, it does have time to develop and crescendo to where there is more intensity, but nothing much else changes during the duration of the track. "Ex-Cowboy" and "Chocky" are also longer tracks at over 9 minutes. The grandeur that is missed in most of this album starts to come out on "Ex-Cowboy" and, with the help of violin, builds into a wall of sound, but reaches the climax quickly and then dies down again and goes quite minimal for a while before building again, this time to a longer climactic section. It's better, but not very ingenious. "Chocky" is a much better track that lessens the guitar and increases the keyboards, creating a different texture and giving the listener more variety. It features a repeating piano line against soft droning in the background. Feedback and effects build out of the drone when the piano stops and things increase in volume, and then fall back. Another piano melody begins, this time more distinct and the soft drone continues in the background and drums carry a steady beat. It builds quite slowly, most of the build coming out of the drone as individual sounds become more apparent as the volume increases. Towards the end of the track, the piano ends, but the drone suddenly grows much louder and then cuts off.

"Christmas Steps" is the longest track at over 10 minutes, and is more of a return to form of the previous album, more intense and grandiose. There was a track on Mogwai's earlier EP "No Education = No Future" called "Xmas Steps". The melody of both songs is pretty much the same, but "Christmas Steps" is much slower than the original. The structure is pretty close though as the guitar melody is repeated and then doubled and improvised on as the music continues to grow and the guitars play repeated chords. Later, as the tempo and loudness increases, the guitars get distorted and quite heavy. After 6 minutes, things clear up as the noisy background drops off and then a violin solo starts up deep in the background. The music gets very quiet until the end as just the guitars play their repeating melody and the violin continues. This and "Chocky" are definitely the highlights of the album.

Though not as interesting as some of their later, more developed albums, or their previous album, "Come On Die Young" still has it's great moments, they are just a lot fewer and farther between as the album is more of a study in minimalism. There is nothing wrong with that, but the middle of the album definitely sags quite a bit as the songs start to sound too much the same. The best parts of the album are the first 3 tracks and the last 3 (not counting the final postlude track, which is pretty much a throw away, short track). I wouldn't start exploring Mogwai's music with this album, but it is a good one to come back to later mostly for the better tracks.

TCat | 3/5 |


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