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Young Team by Mogwai (Review)

What Mogwai do really, really well is conjure a sense of euphoric aggression.

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.

Read more about Chemikal Underground, Mogwai, and Young Team.

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