Every Country's Sun

Sonic onslaughts, melody and sweetness mingle on an album that is classic Mogwai made fresh

Confined spaces and sonic onslaughts make for compelling bedfellows. This writer’s favourite Mogwai memory is the maniacal look of glee on Stuart Braithwaite’s face when the band simultaneously stomped on the booster pedals during ‘We’re No Here’, one night at the ICA in 2006. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say the wall of sound that hit the audience at high velocity knocked bodies into the bar next door. Yet in the intervening years, Mogwai have displayed a development in sound and execution that prove their vistas and stealth are every bit as captivating.

And so it proves on Every Country’s Sun. Unlike so many bands that have spent years – or, in this case, decades – in each other’s company, Mogwai actually sound reinvigorated here, pushing at sonic barriers not so much by force as by subtlety and restraint. Which isn’t to suggest the slipping on of comfortable footwear and the lighting of a pipe by a roaring fireplace, but a desire to keep exploring new sounds and possibilities.

Certainly, Mogwai are happy to mix the colours from the wide palette they’re holding. Witness ‘Brain Sweeties’ or album opener ‘Coolverine’, wherein guitars and keyboards don’t just weave in and out of each other, they interchange and swap roles with almost indecent insouciance and palpable sense of aural curiosity. Elsewhere, ‘Party In The Dark’ might well be the sweetest thing they’ve ever recorded. Verging on pop and one of their rare forays into vocal-led music, the meshing of melody and sensitivity is an early highlight.

But just as you think you’ve got the current Mogwai pinned down as a vehicle for contemplation and introspection, the band re-employ those booster pedals with a sonic one-two for the album’s crescendo – ‘Battered At A Scramble’ and ‘Old Poisons’ – before offering a twisted form of respite with the closing track, ‘Every Country’s Sun’.

This refinement in Mogwai’s modus operandi suits them well. Where once their revolutionary sound startled, their evolutionary execution now beguiles – and keeps them several steps ahead of the pack.

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