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Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Luke Turner , February 15th, 2011 06:19

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It's tempting to surmise that the title of Mogwai's seventh album is a play on Tortoise's Millions Now Living Will Never Die, yet another attempt to distance themselves from that accursed post rock tag. For if there's one thing that's has characterised Mogwai in their decade and a half of racketeering, it's this kind of mischief making. We first encountered it in their earliest days when press-spun myth had the band pegged as Kappa-wearing hoodlums smuggling vodka across Europe in condoms rammed up their arses, via the infamous Blur=Shite t-shirts that were, wrongly, taken as a bitter gesture, to their ever-varied live sets that make Mogwai one of the finest bands to get out of one's gourd to.

All this ought to have kept them a breed apart from the post rock pigeonhole. For that was a movement that, from such fertile beginnings, became dour and insular as it reveled in its own sense of self-importance, creating contemplative and moralising symphonies interpreted for guitar, violin, and beard. Mogwai have always seemed to have too much of a good time for that, and Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will captures this spirit perfectly.

'Rano Pano' has one of those grating, punishing riffs that Mogwai do so well. This time around, it keeps getting distracted by electronic distortion, a method of moving their sound along that's deployed throughout. It is, like the concluding cod-epic sludge of 'You're Lionel Ritchie', a little daft. Or then there's the summery motorik that drives 'Mexican Grand Prix', and the understandably weary-sounding (given the title) 'Letters To The Metro'.

Elsewhere, and this is perhaps what has struck me most about this hugely enjoyable record, is a strange feeling that familiar tropes of sung music are being subverted to Mogwai's own ends: you feel like you could bellow along to a lot of this. So 'Death Rays' has the lusty bombast of a non-Conformist hymn, while 'San Pedro' feels inspired by a drunken fol-di-rol traditional. There's great contrast too between the rambunctious backing of 'George Square Thatcher Death Party' and Stuart Braithwaite's vocoder singing, without which the track would make a good basis for a collaboration with a Welsh male voice choir. And not just because of the miners.

It feels as if Mogwai are now making music that would suit a bellicose vocalist or bawdy ensemble, but have wisely kept the singing to just a couple of tracks and left your imagination to supply the rest. I don't think I've ever found myself humming along to Mogwai songs while doing the dishes before. Hardcore does not evoke the cinematic, or provide a soundtrack for the music critic's sixth form stabs at the grandiose (remember that "music is bigger than words and louder than pictures" intro to Young Team), but more is a simple manifestation of five people getting together to take great pleasure in the abandon of making a racket, and in some way inviting you to join them. For as this record proves, Mogwai are and always have been pompous only in the sense of a fat and drunken squire, red of face and shouting his blarney at an assembled multitude, rather than the dry bread and water hippy sermonising of the North American and Canadian instrumentalists who were their contemporaries. And for that, may their lives be long, and their noise-making fruitful.

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Feb 15, 2011 11:40am

So, what was the whole "Blur=shite" t-shirt thing about if it wasn't a "bitter gesture"?

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Feb 15, 2011 12:09pm

Ace review. This is probably the most immediate Mogwai album and it's all the better for it but that's not to say it doesn't have depth. 'Happy Songs...' was my favourite Mogwai album but I think 'Hardcore...' may just take it's place.Definately not as cinematic but I could still see 'Letters To The Metro' soundtracking a Michael Mann movie. Top stuff.

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Luke Turner
Feb 15, 2011 1:31pm

In reply to Elliot:

er, a pretty amusing pricking of the pomposity of a prick?

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Feb 15, 2011 3:39pm

Oh the irony of complaining about the Post Rock movement's self importance while at the same time penning one of those irritating, pretentious, wordy reviews that wouldn't be out of place on Pitchfork.

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Feb 15, 2011 3:44pm

I remember, back in the day, discussions on a mailing list about getting some 'mogwai: are slint' t-shirts printed up.

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John Calvert
Feb 15, 2011 7:50pm

yeaaaaah, fuck words, eh Alex? What have words ever done for us?! Nice review. recommended further listening Luke: And So I Watched Her From Afar. very melodic, unpretentious post-rock (though they like to see it as punk music) and heavy as fuck. there's an article on them somewhere on your site though, so you may already have have had the pleasure.

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Feb 15, 2011 9:07pm

In reply to John Calvert:

Not to be a pedant but it's 'And So I Watch You From Afar'...I can sympathise with Alex though. It's tough finding big words you can't understand. If only you could, I don't know, type a word you didn't know into some sort of a search engine on the internet...and then maybe come across some sort of online dictionary service. Somebody should get on that shit.

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Feb 15, 2011 9:30pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Not at all. They just reduced themselves to the level of Oasis. They're very much the thinking man's "meat and potatoes" rock, peddling exactly the same sound as ever with very little progress or development whilst assuming that they're in a position to lord over all other bands. How *dare* they have a go at the genuinely talented, restlessly creative Damon Albarn? "Pretty amusing"? Try tedious and pathetic. Both times I saw Mogwai I wore a Blur t-shirt just to distance myself from the fuckers. I never want to see them again.

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Feb 15, 2011 9:57pm

In reply to :

You saw them twice and wore a Blur t-shirt to distance yourself from those "fuckers"? I can understand perhaps seeing a band once you didn't particularly like but twice?

Well...fair enough....

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John Calvert
Feb 16, 2011 11:15am

In reply to G:

Sorry Im a seasoned stalker. watching *her* from afar has always seemed more likely.

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Feb 16, 2011 12:17pm

In reply to :

Kudos for not letting them get to you, though

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Feb 16, 2011 2:48pm

well this really kicked off the comments

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Feb 16, 2011 3:12pm

In reply to :

I wonder why the "genuinely talented, restlessly creative" Damon Albarn didn't put his name to his post?

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Feb 17, 2011 1:17am

In reply to John Calvert:

Quite alright. You share something in common with Stephen Colbert though:

Look out for the guitar solo. If you can track down the original video, it's well worth it for the bad 80s video refs.

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Feb 17, 2011 8:33am

Okay review. Glad it didn't descend into dismissing the previous few records as rubbish like a lot of the other reviews for this record have. There's unusually not much love for their recent albums, it's all about Young Team and CODY. As far as I'm concerned the last three, apart from the misstep of I Chose Horses on Beast, are pretty much as perfect as records can get.

As for Hardcore, have had plenty of time to let it soak in since the leak, and it's probably their weakest album so far....not that that's a bad thing, that high level of quality couldn't go for ever surely. A weak Mogwai album is better than the best album most other bands could muster. What's most interesting about Hardcore are the songs they left off...Slight Domestic and particularly Hasenheide are as strong as anything else on the album.

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Feb 17, 2011 5:46pm

Dash it all, I'm going to have to write a tune called 'symphony for guitar, violin, and beard', now, aren't I? Tchoch.

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Feb 19, 2011 11:09pm

Brilliant everyone is getting so pissed off! I'm not going to say a Glasgow band. A band from Scotland that basically jam are loved so much is amazing. There is something special about Mogwai, fuck knows what it is. That's the beauty. I want to hear that Mogwai are working with Boards Of Canada and Johan Duncanson. Just to see how the music press would label it. Edgy mellow... Medge! Medge is brilliant and really funny obviously but i would love that mix. It would work. Get Kevin Sheilds in as producer? Or Bez. Cannot go wrong.

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no beard
Feb 20, 2011 7:27pm

Pah. It's the eternally straw man'd GY!BE who've made the most inventive 'post-rock' whilst Mogwai relapse into little more than playing some riffs on guitars (there's nothing wrong with this provided the riffs are good, which they frequently are).

But where Godspeed's music means- or at least suggests things strongly- Mogwai's jokey song titles- as if they're scared of *meaning* anything- irritates me. There's nothing there to believe in. GY!BE are far more subtle than their haters give them credit for, and shouldn't be dismissed for having lofty ambitions.

Neither GY!BE nor Mogwai should be held responsible for the numerous tedious copyists. Those of the former think that some vaguely biblical

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Apr 19, 2011 4:43pm

Is there another Canada that's not North American?

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