Mogwai – As the Love Continues
Emerging during the hangover from the boisterous Britpop years, Mogwai have gradually acquired devoted fans and influential admirers by parlaying that post-euphoria fug into two decades of ever more commercially successful albums (and a few acclaimed soundtracks to boot).
The Scots’ slow-burn route to commercial success is in tandem with some of their records: often difficult to place, requiring a degree of perseverance, but with an artistic completeness that ultimately satisfies. This is true of their latest, As the Love Continues, which opens with the spacey To the Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth (named for a line that fellow musician and pal of the group Ben Power said in his sleep). Its tender piano lines and expansive guitars could invoke the Icelandic epicness of Sigur Ros – but this is Mogwai, and, in keeping with its contrasting title, the song never quite launches into stratospheric indulgence.
Following it, Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever, another instrumental (like all but one song on the album), is a synth-laden track of pleasant richness. It sounds like an ambient soundtrack to a hard-to-complete late-90s computer game level, with the lack of lyrics compensated for by inventive instrumentation.
The brooding Dry Fantasy rolls into Ritchie Sacramento, the only track featuring guitarist frontman Stuart Braithwaite’s vocals, and the record’s unquestionable standout. Written as a tribute to musical pals lost over the years, it’s a fabulously moody pop song with a background inspired by a story about the late Dave Berman of Silver Jews throwing a shovel at a sports car.
Sadly, the second half of of the album isn’t as strong, despite typically witty or forthright song titles like Fuck Off Money, Ceiling Granny, and It’s What I Want to Do, Mum. Ninth track Pat Stains is a possible exception, building from an affectingly minimalist guitar line to repeat To the Bin My Friend’s formula of hinting at pomp without fully embracing it.
As the Love Continues is at times a frustrating listen – it has moments of brilliance that are somewhat overshadowed by Mogwai’s idiosyncrasies and the suggestion that Braithwaite could write a more accessible record, but has decided not to. But one suspects that’s the way Mogwai want things, and in a world with too few one-offs determined to do what they want, it’s to be admired.
As the Love Continues is released on 19th February 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Mogwai’s website here.
Watch the video for the singleRitchie Sacramento here: