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




Post Rock/Math rock

3.90 | 192 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Having previously heard Young Team, an album that I considered a mixed success, I was hoping to find that the band had learned from their successes and failures and come up with a more refined effort. I am very pleased to say that I think they did. I can hear both the explosive elements of Young Team as well as a new element...much better mixing and a much richer atmosphere that at times can remind me slightly of SIGUR ROS. Perhaps it's the string arrangements that most contribute to this impression; I think they are a wonderful addition to the MOGWAI sound. The painfully short tracks "Moses? I Amn't" and "Golden Porsche" best exemplify this new element.

The only disappointments I found are in "Moses? I Amn't" and "Boring Machine Disturbs Sleep". In the first song, while it was nearly perfect, I admit I was disappointed by the amount of analogue hiss I could hear in the percussion. It was such a haunting sound they used--I just wish it hadn't had such a major flaw in it. The other thing that disappointed me was the fact that "Boring Machine Disturbs Sleep" was in fact a bit boring indeed, especially in comparison to the other songs this album had to offer. I've never been impressed with the lead vocalist's unaltered voice, so I consider this track the only true weak point of the album.

But, not enough can possibly be said about the other tracks! "Killing All the Flies" starts out soft, but has a surprising explosion into a refined version of a Young Team- like rock that really makes listening worth it. "Ratts of the Capital" has a similar effect, but is even better...even as the longest track of the album, it just isn't long enough. Perhaps the album's most haunting track, though, is "I Know You Are But What Am I". The piano part in particular is quite haunting and minimalist--but without becoming annoying and monotonous as I sometimes heard on Young Team. The percussion loop is also mesmerising, and that strange, almost Game Boy-like synth gives it the feeling of a cold winter's night under the moon. I also noticed there's something very unusual going on with the time signature--some strange aspect to the rhythm that I can't quite catch hold of, and don't have the expertise to describe. Whatever it is, it's quite intriguing, to say the least, and a very neat sign of the subtle inventiveness MOGWAI has learned.

As if the music weren't enough, I mus truly commend the initiative of MOGWAI and the generosity of Steinberg--as an amateur sound production enthusiast, imagine my surprise and delight when a white slip of paper fell out of the liner notes saying the album had come with a free demo of Cubase SX, no less, and tracks provided by MOGWAI of "Hunted Like a Freak". Imagine my further delight when I discovered the demo has no expiration date and is nearly fully functional. I am not an expert, and I don't pretend to understand even half of Cubase's full power--but what I have managed to figure out, I'm impressed with. I've truly enjoyed playing with the possibilities. Again, I extend my thanks to MOGWAI and Steinberg for this remarkable opportunity as well as for an overall great album.

FloydWright | 4/5 |


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