Mogwai: Rave Tapes

Rave Tapes
(Sub Pop Records)

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Mogwai are indisputably masters of atmosphere. Though their songs usually either feature heavily distorted vocals or are entirely instrumental, they manage to convey so much emotion.

Last year Mogwai released the soundtrack to the brilliant French, not-quite-zombie series Les Revenauts (The Returned for us Americans), and that score work shows here. Previous Mogwai studio albums were a bit fiercer and more intense, unafraid of blasting your eardrums when the moment was right. The songs on Rave Tapes don’t mind gradually unfurling, leaning more on electronics than previous albums while still relying on smooth, snaky guitar work and live drums rather than a fake beat.

As for standout tracks, “Remurdered” pushes forward the instrumentation before drawing it back again and again before the synths come to the forefront, creating an alluring, threatening vibe. “Master Card” is certainly classic Mogwai, with the intensity of the guitar offset by steady, calm keyboards. But the most interesting song, “Replenish,” is right in the middle. Between musical movements, a monologue rants about satanic subliminal messages in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” The creepy accusations make an otherwise beautiful song gain a new edge.

Though Rave Tapes isn’t quite as loud as its predecessors, it is just as intense and smart. This could easily be a soundtrack, but here Mogwai are totally in control of the creative output and the mood, to brilliant result.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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