Lest we think Scotland, a land known for having inhabitants never less than willing to fight, is producing nothing but fey bands like Belle and Sebastian (albeit, a darn good fey band), we find Mogwai remaining on the scene. Having produced a singles comp (10 Rapid) and a couple of EPs, Young Team is their first attempt at a “proper” album. Not much is new here if you’ve heard Mogwai before.
If you’re new to the ‘Gwai, here’s the basic idea of things. Slint-like quiet/loud, clean/distorted passages, Bardo Pond-esque frontal assaults, and Tortoise‑y pick bass. The vocals are usually muted if there at all. Aidan Moffatt from Arab Strap (yet another Scot group) makes a appearance, and mumbles his way along like the rest of the band. This is track 8 “RU still in 2 it” (these guys into Prince?), and its a bit of a pity because there’s some actual melody in the singing at the chorus — why don’t they do this a bit more often? Their cover of “Honey” on the Spacemen 3 tribute album proves they can indeed pull off this sort of thing.
All grumbles and whines aside, what Mogwai do really, really well is conjure a sense of euphoric aggression. Tracks 1 and 2 let you know with no doubt the kind storm they like to whip up. “Yes! I am…” starts as sweet as Slowdive and “Like Herod” ends as scary as Unsane. On the album’s capper, “Mogwai Fear Satan,” for about 16 minutes they’re grinding out one riff at various levels of intensity, a nicely (again, Bardo-esque) blown flute keeping things somewhat ethereal. There’s a couple of moments where they kick in, still playing the same riff, just a TAD bit harder, and it makes all the difference in the world.
Written by Pearson Greer.