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Mogwai
HAPPY SONGS FOR HAPPY PEOPLE
(MATADOR)
Stars graphics

The Glasgow-based post-rock quintet Mogwai created the musical equivalent of beautifully violent rocket launches with the tense, cathartic instrumentals of their earliest recordings. Rock Action, which came out in 2001, saw the bandís guitar-fueled boosters becoming less essential, their chaos tempered by subtle, near-orchestral instrumentation, tighter and more-melodic arrangements, and even some vocals.

The blissful expansiveness of their fourth studio album suggests that Mogwai are now gliding in glorious orbit. Thatís certainly the case in "Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep," which drifts on the kind of æthereal guitar and keyboard drones and anæsthetized murmurs that Spiritualizedís Jason Pierce pioneered. Same with "Kids Will Be Skeletons," a puffy cloud of a number that swells majestically before gently swirling in on itself in the hands of guitar-playing frontman Stuart Braithwaite. "Golden Porsche" rests on a bed of heart-rending strings and meandering percussion; "I Know You Are But What Am I?" sets a simple piano melody and chimes against electronic twinkles and thwonks. For much of the album, Braithwaite seems content to relinquish the controls to his bandmates, particularly multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns, whose symphonic inclinations have had a profound, range-widening effect on the outfit. Still, Mogwai havenít entirely jettisoned the power-booster guitar riffs: the lofty, eight-minute "Ratts of the Capital" and the sublime closer, "Stop Coming to My House," are guitar epics as massive as anything on their earlier albums.

BY MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG


Issue Date: August 22 - August 28, 2003
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