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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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3 stars This is the only Mogwai album I own, although I do have a couple EPs that I listen to every once and a while. This is one I bought only after hearing Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Bark Psychosis, which kind of got me started in this genre. The album is decent mood music, and there are a couple points in it which are musically unusual, but overall I don’t believe this ranks among the finest post-rock works around.

“Hunted by a Freak” shows a bit of promise in that the overall sound isn’t much like some of the more mundane post-rock bands I’ve heard in the past few years (Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Sigur Rós being two key exceptions). The variety of sound effects and percussion used sparingly but to good effect and the string arrangements give this a pleasant (although slightly depressing) feel. By the end I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the album has to offer.

The short “Moses? I Amnt” is somber with a heavy keyboard track restrained strings, mostly violin I think. It’s an appealing sound but doesn’t seem to really go anywhere.

On “Kids Will Be Skeletons” I get the same sense of anticipation with the simple and patiently slow strings and guitar picking at the onset. Since this is a post-rock album I expect a frenzied crescendo at some point, and true to form one slowly emerges around the middle. It sounds like one guitar slowly and almost imperceptibly picks up the basic rhythm of the first guitar, which itself then wanders off on a variation while the strings and tempo instruments build to a screech. Another good composition but somehow as it fades away I’m feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I can’t help but wonder if Godspeed or some other similar band would have taken the time to further develop this one.

With another thought-provoking title comes “Killing All the Flies”, another guitar-picking- and-violin work that starts off mild, but really hits the roof midway through. These kinds of intense crescendos are the things that really caused me to become interested in this genre of music, but I think that this is not a good song to play if you’re depressed. I’m a pretty laid-back individual but this one can kind of bum me out if I listen to after a rough day at work.

“Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep” starts off differently than the rest of the songs on this album, with some rather cacophonous keyboards and mumbling vocals. A really uncomfortable listen and a song I still don’t really take to even after many listens.

With “Ratts in the Capital” we’re back to the slow picking guitar opening, odd time signature, and really detached keyboards. This one has the obligatory crescendo as well, sort of. Really the whole middle of the track is an amplified mix of sounds that projects really well, although at times it seems like there is some background noise that almost sounds like tape hiss. Also, the long fadeout (almost two minutes) seems to be a bit pointless, but still overall one of the better tracks on the album.

“Golden Porsche” has a guitar lead-in that reminds me of a children’s nursery song, I just can’t remember which one. I guess this is a traveling song, or maybe meant to project the feeling of a country drive, but it is quite short and yet another theme that seems to be underdeveloped.

“I Know You Are But What Am I?” opens with singular piano strokes, the only song on the album to do so, with some bell (synth?) bells and finally drum coming in about a minute and a half in. The drum track is quite irregular, some sort of weird tempo unlike anything I’ve heard before, but strikes me as more clever than meaningful. This sequence is repeated in the second half of the work with a bit of variation, and then takes forever to fade out. Once again, an interesting idea, but feels incomplete.

So not a stellar album, but a pretty decent listen nonetheless. Not much else to say – three stars.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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