Friday, September 09, 2011

REVIEW: Mogwai - Earth Division

Mogwai - Earth Division

Earlier this year, Mogwai released one of this year’s finest LPs with the brilliantly titled Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will. The album featured a consistent mix of crushing, distortion-heavy moments and more serene, uplifting moments. On their latest, Earth Division, Mogwai take four tracks to experiment a bit with the guitar-focused sound that has defined much of their catalog – it’s a noticeable creative departure.

Don’t go looking for those hair-raising, mammoth-sized guitar riffs on Earth Division. This four-song collection sees guitar taking a backseat to string arrangements, serving more of a complementary role as opposed to establishing the character of each song. Here, we find Mogwai sounding more intimate than ever, gravitating towards piano and more acoustic-based instrumentation. There’s a clear classical influence at work throughout that makes Earth Division sound quite elegant and stately, especially on the magical, wondrous “Go To France.” The acoustic ballad “Hound of Winter” and the soothing, meditative “Does This Always Happen?” play towards a similar elegant, intimate feel, while “Drunk and Crazy,” with its fuzzed out electronics, percussion, and electric guitars, is more in line with Mogwai’s familiar wall of sound, just wrapped in a dream pop allure.

Earth Division, with its classical, symphonic string arrangements and graceful pacing, is a most gorgeous collection of sound and texture – one that makes a perfect soundtrack for a rainstorm. But what the EP possesses in absolute beauty and strength of arrangement, it lacks in pull, not consistently drawing in the listener as much as it could. These four tracks are fantastic as the companion piece to something else, but only the attentive listener will find himself or herself engaged in what’s going on; it can be dreamy, subtly hypnotic at times, and rather enchanting, but it doesn’t always register as immediately deep as some of the band’s past work. One thing is for certain, Mogwai took a chance and, all in all, it paid off and worked.

Earth Division is out September 12th on the band's own Rock Action Records (Europe) and September 13th on Sub Pop (US).

LISTEN: Mogwai - Earth Division
courtesy of Rock Action Records

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