You are here

A review of...

Rave Tapes by Mogwai

Rave Tapes
Date: 
January 20, 2014
Writer: 
Adam Taylor
8.0

Another Mogwai album’s out, it’ll be all quiet then loud guitars, there’ll be little singing, some sampled dialogue, and all the tracks will last about ten minutes, it’s their “trademark sound”. With the possible exception of Napalm Death, there are very few bands or musicians so synonymous with the genre they’ve come to define as the Scottish "post-rockers" are (and much like anyone so often tagged and typecast in such a way, they're not big fans of having the life genre'd out of them), but if we accept for a minute that music loves a genre almost as much as The King of Rock n' Roll loved a cheeseburger, and again begrudgingly accept the compartmentalization of all things sonic into so clearly and unambiguously defined strata and species, then at least we can be honest about the fact that, in all honesty, nobody makes post-rock (or a post-rock album) with quite the same brilliance that Mogwai do. And there's good reason for this - for almost two decades, and across all number of releases - albums, soundtracks, the lot, Mogwai have consistently delivered something amazing and, at the same time, have made small yet telling evolutionary and progressive touches to what they do - this album is the product of the last, and that the one before it, and so on. There's none of them departures, to appease the baying press that feed happily and satisfyingly on such disharmony, no revolutionary change - and why would you? why would you alter what you do, when what you can do is this special. Rave Tapes is everything that Mogwai do so well, it's everything you've come to expect of a Mogwai album - yes, those factors jokingly referred to at the start of this review do ring true, but that's half the story - more impressive by far is that they rework those staple ideas, as they have done again and again, and make something newly exceptional, inspiring and moving - brimming with great ideas, and teeming with emotion. Rave tapes, ticks all the boxes from start to finish, at times it’s bleak, isolated and lonely – very much the sound of the modern city – and at turns it can be affirming, celebrity and revelrous – it’s distinctively the sound of Mogwai, it’s unmistakably of their tonal palette, it’s the music they collectively conjure with such definitive authority – to my ear, and to my mind, no-one does what Mogwai do quite as well as they do it themselves.