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Mogwai Young Team album cover
3.55 | 122 ratings | 20 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home (5:58)
2. Like Herod (11:44)
3. Katrien (5:27)
4. Radar Maker (1:38)
5. Tracy (7:22)
6. Summer (priority Version) (3:31)
7. With Portfolio (3:13)
8. R U Still In 2 It (7:23)
9. A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters (2:21)
10. Mogwai Fear Satan (16:17)

Total Time: 64:55

Bonus CD/2LP from 2008 remaster:
1. Young Face Gone Wrong [outtake From 'Young Team' Recording Sessions] (2:58) *
2. I Don't Know What To Say [outtake From 'Young Team' Recording Sessions] (1:14)
3. I Can't Remember (3:13)
4. Honey (4:18)
5. Katrien (Live 1997) (5:31)
6. R U Still In 2 It (Live 1997) (8:01)
7. Like Herod (Live 1997) (7:53)
8. Summer (Priority) (Live 1997) (2:58)
9. Mogwai Fear Satan (Live 2000) (10:26)

* Previously unreleased

Total time 46:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Stuart Braithwaite / guitar, glockenspiel
- John Cummings / guitars
- Brendan O'Hare / piano, guitar
- Dominic Aitchison / bass
- Martin Bulloch / drums

- Barry Burns / spoken voice (1)
- Mari Myren / spoken voice (1)
- Shona Brown / flute (10)
- Aidan Moffat / voice (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Adam Piggot with Brendan O'Hare (photo)

CD Chemikal Underground ‎- chem018cd (1997, UK)
2xCD Chemikal Underground ‎- chem106cd (2008, UK) Remastered by Kenny McLeod with bonus CD

2xLP Chemikal Underground ‎- chem018 (1997, UK)
4xLP Chemikal Underground ‎- chem106 (2008, UK) Remastered by Kenny McLeod w/ bonus tracks

Thanks to m@x for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MOGWAI Young Team ratings distribution

(122 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MOGWAI Young Team reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FloydWright
3 stars It's obvious from Young Team that MOGWAI is a band with talent and ideas-- the album is for the most part a pleasant listen. Probably the greatest highlights, in my opinion, are "Like Herod", "Summer", and "Mogwai Fear Satan". "Like Herod" reminds me of the PINK FLOYD song "Come In Number 51, Your Time is Up" (essentially a reworked, transposed version of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene"). Certainly the most innovative on the album is the second half of "With Portfolio", which truly challenges the listener to follow along. Also, I have to say that the ending of "A U still in 2 it" is quite striking. I rather like the effect of the guitar beneath that resonating piano. And finally, can enough possibly be said about "Mogwai Fear Satan"? This is easily the strongest track on the album, even beating out "Like Herod". This track has a flow to it like nothing else on Young Team, and you hardly notice the length of the song, as you never want it to end!

To me, however, MOGWAI's strongest suit (at least, as I've got to know it in Young Team) is its percussion. It seems to me the drummer, who reminds me some of Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, is the one with the most variation in his playing through a song, who really holds together the songs. A prime example is "A cheery wave from stranded youngsters", which has a very intriguing percussion riff. In fact, the counting off at the beginning of this ensures that the listener's attention will be placed upon the percussion, and this is a very smart choice. Other places that benefit from these percussion explosions include "Like Herod" and "Summer". As for the "vocals", I would say the phone conversations work rather well.

However, at times there seems to be something wanting on Young Team-- hence the "in the rough" description. There's something rather dry and distant in the mixing, which at times can diminish songs that otherwise could have been made more hard-hitting. Given the drummer's strength, I would have favored a mix similar to what you hear with classic rock artists like Led Zeppelin or Joe Walsh, which would bring them blasting to the forefront to let them "drive" these songs. This band would benefit from a mixing job a bit more like what SIGUR ROS employs. I also think that a stronger bass tone might have been in order. The other problem is that with the exception of the percussion riffs, many of the songs do not seem to show much evolution from their original riffs. There are very few true solos to grasp on to. In particular, I think that "Radar Maker" demonstrates this problem, as well as "With Portfolio" (until the more innovative section kicks in. And, I'm afraid the vocal attempt in "A U still in 2 it" is less that inspiring in the verses.

I certainly found this album worth keeping and listening to from time to time, but I can't say it will be my most frequent listen, due to the flaws I've pointed out--sometimes by the end it becomes rather tiring to listen to it straight through. Therefore, I cannot really award it more than 3 stars, but I certainly can't go lower, because Young Team does have potential to it. "Mogwai Fear Satan" and "Like Herod", which are exempt from almost every complaint I've made, suggest that there is more to this band.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Mogwai's debut is certainly one of the better post rock records and it held high promises for the future. Without wanting to be' a party pooper, the least that can be said is that those promises have only been partially filled after nine years. Although Mogwai is a rather normal and conventional post rock group nowadays, at the release of the album, there were serious hints that they would innovate and find their own sound quite quickly! Alas, they chose to follow the route of Constellation Records label's stars GYBE! or DMST instead of trying some thing like Fly Pan Am. But I am reaching too far ahead as this is valid for later Mogwai albums and this is supposed to be a review of Young Team.

This young Scottish band (and this is rather surprising since most post-rock groups are from the new world) was among the first to develop what is now almost considered the standard post rock sound with heavy, sober and dark ambiances. Although the artwork sleeve suggests a Japanese influence, there is not much of the sort on this album - well maybe the title of the opening track, but little else. What sets this debut apart from the usual post-rock production are the few experimental moments such as the track With Portfolio with its bizarre yet appealing doodlings and the presence of sung vocals on a few other tracks. So if their sound still sticks to the average post rock sound, Mogwai will clearly influence also Explosions In The Sky who will copy their real psychey guitar and vocals.

So with Young Team, Mogwai managed a strong debut and raised a few highbrows, but unfortunately to these ears, this is so far their best album (Rock Action is good also) - I admit that I have not heard all of their following albums - but hardly groundbreaking

Review by Philo
3 stars Par for the post rock course Young Team is an album packed with a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but being released back in 1997 they were ahead of the pack and being from Scotland quite unique in many respects. There are some truly inspired moments during Young Team where the band and their brand of melancholia is in perfect sympathy but there are times where they simply whack off a few intense riffs of aggression, interspersed with laid back picking, searching through through minor keys for sounds of sadness. The bass heavy "Like Herod" bringing out the good and the average of the band. But at least Mogwai are anything but predictable as the turn many corners, like producing stunning emotions with "Summer (priority version)" before breaking the noise barrier with a collage of aggressive sounds juxtaposed with the subtle piano wail on "With Portfolio". Mogwai, according to legend, set out to make some serious guitar music and they do just that. Their mainly instrumental music is built around the guitar, musically minimalistic, but they take the electric guitar through its paces and trash it through walls of sounds and bring it back down gracefully, yet in a dark place full of emotion and a mellow tone. Much of the narrative and samples within the music went over my head, and Young Team is not the most accessible of albums, but at this early stage Mogwai were crafting something different, original may be too strong a word as they simply tend to stretch out passages and even drone here and there to be that original, but this album is certainly entertaining, progressive, atmospheric and sometimes irritating.
Review by Prog-jester
3 stars With "Young Team" I'm becoming a bit more disappointed with the genre. I remember the times when freshly discovered GYBE albums seemed to be a revelation for me. Those times are long now. I know the formula - take simple chord progression for bass- guitar, lay two guitars on it and insert drumming. Then throw in there few climaxes and bells on quite places ;) This formula still works, and MOGWAI were among the first bands who discovered it back in 1997. Best track here is certainly the closer - "Mogwai fear Satan" (whatever what the name means). It may have been lasting forever, but it lasts 16 minutes. Beautiful flute, which adds new colours to rather bleak palette of MOGWAI's Post Rock. Recommended if you're genre's fan - it's a Must for you. Not recommended if you're only to discover Post Rock - you may think something like "is this all they can offer?". No, this is NOT all. Look deeper!
Review by TRoTZ
3 stars Mainly born in North America, the intricate shimmering textures of minimalistic expressions and grandiose feelings, generally known as post-rock, would definitely settle in Europe and reach a surprisingly massive praise with Mogwai. While adding some vague experimental ideas, their music is almost a reminiscent hymn to Slint, from the thrilling perambulation of "Yes! I am a Long Way from Home" to the particularly evident "Like Herod", almost as if we could take it from "Spiderland" - a sophomore evolution of painfully subtle guitars leading to abrasive chaotic explosions. In "Katrien" we assist even to the narrative effect in the background. It's in "Tracy" that the album reaches its cathartic beauty, here yes something new, a dreamy landscape of guitars and electric piano with a background of distant, felt guitars, a style perhaps opening ideas to the post-rock icons Sigur Rs. Guitars in the depressive "R U Still in 2" evoke Sonic Youth's most subtle passages (while adding the first voices to the album), as in the last track, the 16-minute noise-rock ode "Mogwai Fear Satan", one of the finest, with traces of evolving beauty found with the add of an ethereally-played flute.

Not the revolution or the most impressive moving feeling found in post-rock, but still, with its sparse unique details and quite achieved sensibility, a charismatic post-rock album. Between good and excellent addition.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars This album kind of annoys me, and so does the band really. Lots of potential, very little of it realized as near as I can tell. This is one of the post-rock bands I got into coming off the high of GYBE and Bark Psychosis, and I thought ‘Happy Songs for Happy People’ had its moments but really, far too few of them.

This one isn’t even as good as that. But true to the form of so many post-rock bands, Mogwai deliver a couple of gems floating in a pool of mediocrity. “Like Herod” and “Mogwai Fear Satan” are both lengthy instrumental works with alternating lulls and fuzz- laden, crashing crescendos that can really set you on edge in the right environment. “Like Herod” has some of the same characteristics as some of the last few A Silver Mt Zion albums, which of course came out well after this one but were in no way influenced by Mogwai. The almost psychedelic, long guitar sustains that sometimes rise up to a crashing thunder, but just as often seem to fade away due to lack of interest. At least Silver Mt Zion has strings to keep your ears and mind engaged when Menuk gets bored – there’s nothing here when that happens except for the occasional percussive noodling.

“Mogwai Fear Satan” is another story. There doesn’t seem to be much of a letdown for the entire sixteen-plus minutes, and even when the guitars kick back into spaced-out mode the drums and flute keep the tension of this emotional fire-starter moving along. The lengthy fuzzed crescendos, if you can call them that – maybe ‘flights’ is a better word, are impressive and full of passion, unlike most of the rest of the album. I’m not really clear on the intent of this song (if there is one), but I’m left feeling rather pissed off every time I listen to it, so if that was the goal then – mission accomplished.

The rest of the album is very spotty to say the least. “Katrien” shows some early promise but drops off into nothingness just when the mood starts to jell. The same goes for “Summer” really, which has an almost identical feedback passage early on and late in the song, almost as if the band recorded the first couple minutes and then just mixed another copy of that on the end. “Radar Maker” is an ambient kind of thing that sounds very much like something that came out of an eighties Brian Eno studio session, and the essence of “Tracy” escapes me altogether.

On the other hand “With Portfolio” is a bit of a stretch for the band, mixing sonic feedback with some sort of recorded industrial sounds for a great quadraphonic head rush if you have a good home stereo system to enjoy it on. On headphones it doesn’t quite have the same effect though, and the first time I heard it on mine I kept checking for a short on the chord.

“R U Still in 2 It?” is probably the weirdest tune here, with spacey vocals that crop up at the strangest times, and a persistent guitar riff that sounds as if the guy playing it is stoned and just enjoys hearing himself repeat the same thing over and over and over and…

Finally, “A Cheery Wave from Stranded Youngsters” has some eerie piano – not sure what sort of digital effects mixer the band ran that track through, but it is unusual at least. Too bad this one wasn’t fleshed out a bit more – two minutes is not much to develop a thought in the post-rock world.

A decent album I suppose, but I’m rather underwhelmed by these guys and their surprising inconsistency. This thing is going to get three stars just for “Mogwai Fear Satan”, but would have been more if the weaker tracks would have been developed a bit more.


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This one took me a while to really get into but now that I do like it i'm not sure why the attraction wasn't instant. I particularly like the mellower passages, especially the added flute that couldn't be better as far as i'm concered. And the band seems to constantly developing soundscapes on this record as they slowly build only to eventually crash or recede.

"Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home" opens with someone speaking for a minute before a laid back melody arrives. It starts to build 3 1/2 minutes in and the sound is quickly full 4 minutes in. It sounds great ! The song ends with someone speaking. "Like Herod" is still somewhat laid back but heavier. The bass is good. It quietens down almost to a whisper when bang ! At 3 minutes it explodes violently. This contrast happens a couple of more times. I actually was bracing myself for it the last time it happened. Haha. "Katrien" features a person speaking while the soundscape is building. 1 1/2 minutes in we are really cooking ! There is such a good rhythm 4 minutes in. Nice. "Radar Maker" is made up of reserved piano melodies. "Tracy" opens with the sound of two guys talking on the phone to each other. This is another favourite as the beautiful soundscapes build slowly. The song ends with the same two guys on the phone talking. "Summer (Priority Version)" has some good bass, with a powerful soundscape a minute in that is contrasted with the mellow sections. "With Portfolio" has some slowly played piano to begin with as various spacey sounds in the background build until that is all you hear. This is loud. That was different. "R U Still In 2 It" features gently played guitar as words are spoken. The sound is building. We get actual singing as the song settles back down. By the way Aiden Moffat is the guest vocalist and Shona Brown is the guest flute player.

"A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters" is a catchy yet reserved tune.The piano is dark on this the shortest song on the record. No time to build in this one. "Mogwai Fear Satan" in contrast is the longest track at over 16 minutes. This is my favourite song on the album. The first ten minutes feature powerful melodies with fantastic drumming and ripping guitar. These are contrasted with the pastoral sections that include those beautiful flute melodies. If the first ten minutes are incredible, and they are, then you have to check out the final 6 minutes. I can't tell you how much I love this final passage. Even though it's repetitive and lasts for 6 minutes it could be twice that long and i'd be even happier. Yeah, i'm a Krautrock fan and as long as it sounds this good I say "keep playing it". The flute is again heavenly as are the guitars and drums. It's this final song with the fantastic drumming that makes me wonder if these guys are Krautrock fans.

I know i'm a MOGWAI fan and this is a must-have in my mind.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I certainly don't agree with giving value to albums just because they're groundbreaking or revolutionary. While that of course adds to the importance of a record, innovation doesn't necessarily equal enjoyment in my view. And as my beliefs go, music is made first to entertain me, then to amaze me with its intricacies.

MOGWAI's first album, "Young Team", has received many strong ratings just for its very original sound. On the other hand, subsequent albums by the same band have received lesser ratings just because they weren't innovative-enough to match what the Scottish did here.

True, this album must have made a decent impact back when it was released, just like other post-rock debuts of the time like GY!BE. That new wave of rock music inspired a genre that has given me more than a minor headache to come to appreciate, due to its self-indulgence and its love for repetition and mindless noddling. But it has been precisely MOGWAI the band that has managed to break free of that problem and become, without a doubt, my favorite post-rock band (incredibly, this is my fifth MOGWAI review, and there's one more coming). The preference for shorter songs have really made a difference here.

This was MOGWAI's first, but not best, album. I still think "Mr. Beast" or "Happy Songs for Happy People" are slight better than "Young Team", even though both of those are still not perfect. In "Young Team" I hear a lot of potential in songs (not really songs, this are instrumental tracks after all) like "Yes! I Am a long way from home" and "Like Herod". The typical mid-tempo, crescendo-based dynamics of MOGWAI's rather sad (or I'd say sad-ish, this is not really sad) music is here. But the middle section of the record tends to become less brilliant, with some weaker moments like "With Portfolio". "R U still in 2 it" features vocals, though they're mostly spoken, and it's a welcome refreshment after the weakest passages in the album. The record, though, ends with two fantastic tracks: the very short "A cheery wave from stranded youngsters", which despite its ridiculous title is surprisingly magical and even captivating, and "Mogwai fear Satan", which at the beginning sounds like U2 and then erupts into a wild celebration of chaos and loneliness.

The rating I would give this album if possible is 3.5 stars. As I can't do it, I'll give it 4 stars, rounding-up because of the innovation factor that, while not decisive, as I said in the beginning, is still an important reason for newcomers to go and purchase this very good recording.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Young Team" (also knows as "Mogwai Young Team") is the debut full-length studio album by Scottish post-rock act Mogwai. The album was released through Chemikal Underground in October 1997. Mogwai formed in 1995 in Glasgow and released a couple of singles in their formative years (which were compiled and released on the April 1997 compilation album "Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997)"), before being signed for the release of "Young Team".

The material featured on the album is predominantly instrumental although some tracks feature spoken word samples. The exception is "R U Still in 2 It", which features half spoken/half sung vocals by Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap). Bass, guitar, and drums are the main instruments used on the album although some tracks feature piano/keyboard/flute/glockenspiel. The tracks are generally dynamic in nature starting out slow and mellow and often ending in louder, distorted, and harsh sounding climaxes (or shift between the two styles). Its minimalistic music both in terms of the complexity of the compositions and the instrumentation. Sometimes it works pretty well and Mogwai are able to create an interesting atmosphere, but since very few musical elements are used on each track, some songs drag and feel repetitive ("Like Herod" and especially the 16:19 minutes long "Mogwai Fear Satan" fall in that catagory).

"Young Team" features an authentic and organic sounding production. Its not a sound featuring much warmth, but its detailed and suits the material well. Upon conclusion "Young Team" is a decent debut album by Mogwai, who would soon change pace and write less abrasive tunes, so this is a pretty unique album in their discography and definitely their most harsh and loud release. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars There isn't that much on here that really impressed me, but Mogwai pulls out a good number when I'm really looking for one. The overall sound is essentially droning guitars and crashing percussion with some keyboard excursions for good measure. Unfortunately, the bass, while present, doesn't really impact the sound.

The two longer songs will give many progsters a curious feeling, but both are one-idea extensions with little in terms of variety. That being stated, they can entice the listener's inner dreamer to go mind exploring. ''Like Herod'' is my easy pick for the album's top track because the dynamics are brilliant; it's quiet for some time before a metallicised explosion. And this is about six years before the Mars Volta started doing this. ''Mogwai Fear Satan'' sounds promising, but is essentially an indie-jangle pop song with sixteen minutes of run-time and occasional noisy moments.

The rest of YOUNG TEAM is a batch of shorter songs that don't have the nuances of the longer songs. ''Katrien'', ''Tracy'' and ''R U Still In 2 It'' are duller than dirt, the last one especially not doing the trick no thanks to the hideously mediocre vocals. ''With Portfolio'' could have been a highlight with a piano performance reminiscent of Hawkwind's ''One Time'' (DOREMI FASOL LATIDO), but it ends with the worst channel pinging ever. I know it's experimental, but it gives me a massive headache.

Songs like the opener and ''A Cheery Wave...'' are very good...when I'm actually listening to them. As impressive as YOUNG TEAM is, I can never enjoy the album unless I listen to it. Once I put it down, I don't have strong feelings for it (that was a little weird, no?). Impressive in practice, anonymous in theory, there isn't enough of an ''IT'' factor for me to feel for this album.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Mogwai are a post-rock band from Scotland. When this debut album came out, they were one of the few post-rock bands from the UK not based in London. They take their name from the Cantonese word for "devil". Many of the original post-rock bands had a fairly unique sound, but it seems Mogwai and GYBE were the most influential on later post-rock bands. Both at this time employed lots of vocal samples, but both would later abandon them.

"Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home" begins with a speech from a Scottish woman. The bass playing reminds me of Jane's Addiction. When the loud guitars come in it reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins. Backwards talking and laughing at the end. "Like Herod" starts off quiet with a good bass line. The drums drop out. Just before 3 minutes it gets really loud. It then goes through loud/quiet/loud sections. Mogwai were one of the pioneers of the quiet/loud building crescendos thing in post-rock. It wasn't long before this became very cliche in this genre.

"Tracy" starts with atmospheric guitars and talking. Later some nice vibes playing in unison with guitar. More talking later on. The version of "Summer" here, subtitled "Priority Version", is not as good as the one on the Ten Rapid collection. "With Portfolio" begins with piano. Then it becomes a stereo experiment with sound effects. "R U Still In 2 It" has a title that you would find on a Prince album. Almost a ballad. Starts with tremolo guitar and a spoken voice saying the title. Later actual singing and some Jane's style bass playing. Some more talking. Later piano.

"Mogwai Fear Satan" is the longest and best song on the album. Good drumming here. Mainly built around quiet/loud dynamics. The flute during the quiet parts is a nice touch. Some military style drumming near the end with varispeeded guitar effects. Overall, this was influential and too much post-rock of the past ten years sounds very similar. I don't think this is very essential. I think their 2003 album Happy Songs For Happy People would make a better starting point for most prog fans. Young Team gets 3 stars.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 8/10

"Young Team" is a sonic trip that is like no other: an essential Post-Rock recording.

When Post-Rock is mentioned, different people think different things: some might relate it to the dreamy Sigur Ros, more "intellectual" ones will think about Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the ones that like it heavier might associate immediately with Math Rock acts such as Don Caballero, and people who live for classic rock music think of Slint. Usually, the more indie/alternative guy would go for Mogwai, possibly the Post-Rock band that is the ideal band of such kind of music, and it's mostly because of their debut album, "Young Team", which is sadly the only one that is really acclaimed, while everything else they did was and is extremely underrated. However, Mogwai still seem to be on the tip of everyone's tongue, always.

"Young Team" is for Post-Rock an important album, being one of the earliest (1997), the same year as "F#A#Infinity". It is important because it showed what post-rock should be and is: creating atmosphere and non rock textures with typical rock instruments, using tremolo guitar, samples, and (almost) no vocals. Mogwai in particular though is much more concentrated on the guitar, alternating slow, clean moments with distorted walls of sound. Mogwai makes beauty and violence collide in a way that was never played before in the history of music, despite some Slint influences here and there. They also use a great amount of samples, accompanied by slow guitars, giving an interesting and unique atmosphere that like I said was pretty much new at the time. Of course, this album has also tons of variety in sounds; along we find piano, flutes, and a decent amount of electronics, a lot of experimentations with guitar sounds, as well as some delicate vocals by guest musicians. But the music of Mogwai feels so complete without the vocals, thus I guarantee nobody will miss them when they aren't around, as a matter of fact, they aren't really that memorable.

"Young Team" feels like one, long piece of music, instead of ten separate tracks, a sonic trip that is like no other, unique and innovative in its structure. No clear melodies, just concrete atmosphere, that tells so many more stories than a band with actual lyrics. Themes are centered a lot on urban life, living in solitude and sadness even when among civilization, but the shimmering beauty of some moments are little drops of hope poured by the little, unknown people who live their lives one day after another without really living. It is a quite complex trip the one Mogwai presents with their debut, but as you fall in it, you drown, gracefully, and come back breathing only after it's entire 64 minutes.

Songs like "Mogwai Fear Satan", arguably the best Mogwai song ever, the everlasting cliffhanging "Like Herod", the beautifully executed "Tracy", the relaxing intro of the album "Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home", and many others are landmark songs for any Post- Rock enthusiast, even the minor songs, and even the ones that maybe turn me off just a little bit, are full of effective and credible emotion, something that isn't easy to forget.

An album that is absolutely essential for any Post-Rock fan, one of those albums that defined the genre as it is today, along with those other bands we constantly hear about. If you want to feel chills, walls of sound, cleanness, and spacey tunes all in one album, this classic is for you.

Review by Warthur
4 stars An intriguing piece which became vastly influential within the post-rock scene, Mogwai's Young Team is not one for those who like their music to be neat and tidy; like much post-rock, the music here is ragged and sprawls out like a landscape for the listener to explore. Mostly steering away from actual lyrics, aside from a mumbled plea to absent friends to come out for one last drink in R U Still In 2 It, the album explores moody, brooding soundscapes which occasionally erupt into fury, as on the exceptional Like Herod.

Like other foundational works of post-rock such as Talk Talk's final two albums and the debut by Bark Psychosis, the album seems to be composed in such a way as to resemble a collection of found sounds as opposed to conventional songs, and here that approach creates a compelling sonic universe all of its own - and that, at its heart, is the goal of much post-rock which follows on from it.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Mogwai is a band that has had quite a large influence on many post-rock bands and they are credited for the post-rock formula of playing softly, building a long crescendo and reaching the payoff in a loud and noisy climax by the end of the song. While it's true that some of their music follows this formula, for the most part, I don't see where that applies to the majority of their music. What I find is a very effective use of dynamics that aren't always determined simply by the addition of more layers, which is a trap that many post-rock imitators fall into. In this album, you hear the use of that formula only a few times, on "Like Herod" and "Mogwai Fear Satan". I just think that Mogwai does the formula so much better in that they aren't afraid to do variations on the formula or just ignore it all together, and then there is what I said about dynamics earlier.

This being an early album from the band, I went into it expecting it to be more formulaic and noisy. Yes, there is some of that here, but overall, the album is a lot more diverse then I expected. I have grown to love this album and most of their other work too. This album is a lot more rough, as some have pointed out, but I happen to like that in this album. It makes things more real and emotional to me when I listen to it.

Right off the bat, you know this is a dynamic album. There is the build up, climax and release in both the first two tracks. Of course, "Like Herod" has a much longer climatic passage, in fact the soft to loud formula takes place more than once, and there isn't always a build up, sometimes it is an instant change. This song has become a fan favorite and is still a concert staple. "Katrien" uses that dynamic change that Mogwai is famous for and adds some keyboards to the mix. "Radar Maker" is a short keyboard led song that is fairly ambient and a nice change of pace. Ambience continues in Tracy which is named after Tracey Chapman because her song "Fast Car" reminded them of an earlier version of this song. It is played over two prank calls made by the band, but the calls are left in the background creating an ambient feel. It stays pretty quiet throughout with only a slight crescendo. "R U Still In 2 It" is an almost avant garde type piece with vocals sung by Aiden Moffat from Arab Strap, who has guested from time to time with the band to recreate the song in live performances. It has a strange sort of beauty, though it is nothing like what you expect. "A Cheery Wave...." is a nice short interlude that could have actually closed the album. But "Mogwai Fear Satan", a 16 minute rock masterpiece does that job quite effectively. This is a beautiful study of dynamics and emotion topped off with a flute weaving around the guitars in the more quiet passages and very excellent drum hooks throughout. It ends free floating on feedback and flute quite nicely.

Quite a surprising debut from this iconic band. Very enjoyable, a bit rough around the edges but that works to it's advantage. A little more development from time to time would be nice and some songs would have worked better with less ambient vocals behind them in things like phone conversations, but this is a minor issue. Mogwai's sound would become more adventurous as time goes on, but this album is a definite strong 4 star album.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars After the wild and eclectic debut EP "4 Satin," the Scottish post-rock band MOGWAI (means "evil spirit" in Cantonese) wasted no time releasing their first official full length album MOGWAI YOUNG TEAM just a few months later, however in that short time the band learned how to find a more cohesive sound that has become more focused than the wild palette of motifs heard on the EP. What we get here is a nice mellow kind of post-rock that mostly consists of guitar, bass and drums and just like a little music box has repetitive loops of sound that in some cases ratchet up the tension past the ten minute mark ("Little Herod," "Mogwai Fear Satan"). Unlike the more elaborate themes of post-rock contemporaries like Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Tortoise or Sigur Rs that tend to add sonic layers upon each other, MOGWAI opts for the simpler route only taking that road a few times on the longer tracks. If i had to compare them with another band's approach i would have to say they remind me a bit more of Australia's Dirty Three or even a Godspeed! without the bells and whistles.

While the guitar, bass and drum trio of instruments are the backbone of MOGWAI's sound, there are also inclusions of other instruments scattered throughout the album. There is a glockenspiel on "Tracy," a piano on "Radar Maker," "With Portfolio," "A Cheery Wave Of Stranded Youngster" and we also get some flute on "Mogwai Fear Satan." Despite the different sounds coming in and out the emphasis is focused on the looping of themes which usually build momentum on the softer side of the sound spectrum and then can suddenly explode into a raucous cacophonous frenzy. While most of the tracks stick to this formula and are similar in timbre, song structure and mood, there are some strange beasts on board here as well. "With Portfolio" is a bizarre little track that utilizes some seriously heavy use of distortion and effects. Although it begins with an innocent piano riff it soon is joined in by some serious Krautrock-esque type of electronic embellishments that eventually gain control and take the listener on the most tripped out track on the album.

However for the most part is definatley a post-rock band and MOGWAI does stick to the parameters of how song structures are laid out and all but the band still manages to separate their enough from the post-rock scene in general. It is a mostly instrumental album but there are a few tracks that have spoken words and "R U Still in 2 It" has guest vocals from Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap. MOGWAI YOUNG TEAM is a great debut album by the band that manages to keep the tracks similar enough for the most part to have a cohesive feel to the whole thing but yet has enough diverse elements that prevent it from becoming boring in any way. Nice sounds, nice songs and nice feel to the whole thing. This is where i began my MOGWAI journey and have been loving their albums that follow.

Review by Kempokid
3 stars I am very glad that I decided to give Mogwai another chance after my disappointment with Rock Action, this time deciding to go right back to the start where the band were apparently at their most minimalistic and representative of post rock. What I found here was far from a perfect album, but it's one that definitely has its fair share of good moments on it, and is just enough for me to feel like looking a bit more into the band. The main aspect of this album that I enjoy is the leaning on noise rock that a lot of the louder sections on songs have, which is definitely an interesting contrast to what often feels like an explosion of indie rock with a lot of other bands, providing a more unique listening experience. There is also a more ambient side to the album, many songs escalating very little, more like soundscapes than full fledged songs, which are often where I find this album falter.

Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home starts the album off nicely, staying mostly at one volume, but having a really nice jump near the end where the guitar distortion kicks in, while still maintaining a melancholy atmosphere, nothing particularly intense, just an extra layer of depth that creates a more grandiose atmosphere. Like Herod is where things really pick up though, with an ominous bassline, which subtley changes throughout, as the guitar switches between eerily playing off the bass, and having a very slightly more upbeat tone to it, harkening back to the previous track in terms of tone. The song then goes full throttle and explodes into a wall of noise, which ot me sounds like utter panic as everything seems to be falling apart at the seams, the repetitive, wailing guitars sounding similar to some sort of emergency siren. Katrien feels very disappointing to me after the incredible heights the previous song reached, this one being a fuzzy, meandering experience with some spoken word that adds absolutely nothing. Tracy is somewhat better, feeling as if something's taking place, especially with the noise in the background adding additional weight to the core melody, which in itself is extremely good. It goes on for a bit too long, but it's nothing egregious. Summer further picks up in terms of energy, having a faster pace and reminding me strongly of the intro to Metallica's Fade To Black, although I do find the heavier sections here to lack any sort of major impact. WIth Portfolio on the other hand causes the flow of the album to fall flat, being nothing more than a wonky sounding piano arrangement with annoying noise plastered haphazardly over the top. R U Still In 2 It? is the only song with proper vocals, an it is by far the most bleak song here, and while it does drag on a bit, the way it captures such a feeling of isolation is impeccable, so tonally it's extremely good. The final track is also regarded as the best that the band has released, and for good reason I'd say, as the rest of Young Team almost feels as if it simply served as a 50 minute prelude for Mogwai Fear Satan. After an album filled with emptiness and melancholy, this track acts as a ray of sunshine piercing through the clouds, and is very uplifting, being in an absolute constant state of building up and hitting cacophonous climaxes. The song is in a constant state of movement, along with being amazingly powerful. This isn't the best post rock song I've ever heard, but even so, it's still an amazing song that almost makes the multitude of weak points throughout the rest of the album worth it.

Overall, this akbum has some amazing high points on it, but is also rife with filler tracks and a gneerally meandering feel to it, I personally feel like they could have cut this album down to about 45 minutes and had missed out on very little. Overall, while I do like the difference in sound this album has, leaning more on noise than indie rock in many points, it still ultimately doesn't work amazingly on the basis of many of the compositions feeling as if they could have used some tweaking and cutting. I still stand by the fact that I feel as if this album has made me see Mogwai in a more positive light after Rock Action, to the point where I want to listen to some of their other material, but this album does have some flaws, even if Like Herod and Mogwai Fear Satan are both absolutely killer.

Best songs: Like Herod, Mogwai Fear Satan

Weakest songs: Katrien, With Portfolio, Radar Maker

Verdict: Not where I'd start with post rock, but a pretty decent album, despite it being on the overlong side of things. Give it a listen if you enjoy post rock, but this isn't where I'd recommend you start off in the genre.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Mogwai was one of the first band to use the "quiet buildup to loud climax" technique favored by many modern post rock bands, and Young Team's Like Herod is pretty much the perfect example of this. The angry, violent explosive fury of the loud parts is awe-inspiring. The other feature track is the ... (read more)

Report this review (#275128) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Sunday, March 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars While , in many ways, this release is on the same level as HSHP, this album has a much darker and evil tone to it. This is still a brilliant album, but not as emotional. Though many tracks on here do creat beautiful soundscapes, and come in crystal clear, this album still can't really match up ... (read more)

Report this review (#97951) | Posted by asuma | Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is really a disc which you should buy, and not listen to on mp3. The stand-out songs like "Like Herod" and "Mogwai Fear Satan" become all the more powerful that way. The eruptions during some of the songs are really gorgeous, and the slower songs like "Tracy" are really extremely nice to ... (read more)

Report this review (#63548) | Posted by the scientist | Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars MOGWAI's first full-length album. There are several stellar tracks on this disc, starting with the opener, "Yes! I am a Long Way from Home." "Katrien" and the short "A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters" are also great tracks. Nothing, however, prepares you for the gradeur of the 16+ "Mog ... (read more)

Report this review (#35029) | Posted by BrainRock Ben | Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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