By Shawn Gakhal
“Rave Tapes” is Mogwai’s eighth album in an otherwise brilliant post-rock career that has spanned more than 18 years.
But even the biggest stars gradually start to fade away.
Their last album, “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” is a perfect transition into the 2010s, replete with their own take on the suddenly overpopulated genre that they helped created, along with the ever-talented Sigur Ros.
The album had dynamic cuts like the rave-stomper “George Square Thatcher Death Party” to “Rano Pano” to the tranquil “Letters to the Metro.”
Great name for an album notwithstanding, “Rave Tapes” seems uninspired, save for two or three songs. And that’s a shame for such a great band out of the music haven Glasgow, Scotland.
If you’re a fan of post-rock, you know to be patient for that one hook—that Explosions-in-the-Sky-like crescendo that comes blaring in and then swiftly dissipates into oblivion. It can make or break a song in the post-rock realm.
On “Rave Tapes,” that crescendo barely rears its head, which is a good thing. Mogwai knows their identity and doesn’t try to be anything they aren’t.
Why does “Rave Tapes” seem uninspired then? Well, the first couple of songs reek of a band that knows the formula and has it mastered.
Precise strumming of gentle guitars? Check. A slow, prodding pace to the songs? Check.
“Hexon Bogon” feels like the first real Mogwai song on “Rave Tapes.” The guitar work is intricate and frenzied, as it’s released in a glittering fury, accompanied by a sick bass line. “Remurdered” also stands out, as the ominous sounding song features a slick, almost post-punk guitar riff, which also contains a menacing and thumping bass line.
The best song on “Rave Tapes” is “The Lord Is Out Of Control,” which also showcases Mogwai’s knack for coming up with a witty song title. The pacific guitar wailing away in the song creates a ballad feel, as auto-tuned voices are stilted in the song—slowed down for that essential effect. Though the pace is slow here, the execution is on point, because the hook is ever present in the song.
The biggest problem with “Rave Tapes” is the lack of hooks. I believe that a great Mogwai album is hidden somewhere in this album, but there’s just nothing really here—no substance, just a lot of sound droning and sonic noise.
As a big fan of Mogwai, I can’t help but feel disappointed in this album, because Mogwai is just so much more than this. They were the quintessential post-rock band that crafted the revolutionary album “Mogwai Young Team” and the gloomily nostalgic follow up in “Come on Die Young.”
And now, it seems, “Rave Tapes” has turned Mogwai into just another band.