|Studio album by Mogwai|
|Released||6 March 2006|
|Recorded||Castle of Doom Studios, Glasgow, Scotland, April–October 2005|
|Label||Play It Again Sam, Matador|
|Producer||Tony Doogan, Mogwai|
Mr. Beast is an album by Mogwai.
- Auto Rock
- Glasgow Mega Snake
- Acid Food
- Travel is Dangerous
- Team Handed
- Friend of the Night
- Emergency Trap
- Folk Death 95
- I Chose Horses
- We're No Here
One of the many criticisms of post-rock is that it has always had a dubiously "intellectual" quality about it, its fusion of so many different genres both "dispassionate" and "boring" as AMG puts it. In recent years, the latter critique has bombarded those in the post-rock camp while, simultaneously, a new jab has been lobbed: "Homongeous."
Glasgow's Mogwai have been very clever about this, ensuring that their fans and followers never get tired of a formul that should've worn itself out at least two albums ago. Their sonic evolution has been relatively limited, let's be honest... But they have never sounded definitively stale. Leaked in November, Mr. Beast won't take long to soak in partly because it seems the band made it intentionally easy to follow; unlike Rock Action or Happy Songs for Happy People, Mogwai have outdone themselves this time by titling the album literally. Best to keep them guessing, indeed.
If this album is hated by a decent portion of the diehard Mogwai contingent, it will be no surprise. They'll say it's too much "rock" and not enough "post," the element that supposedly made them (and the genre at large) so appealing in the first place. The songs get to the point too quickly, they rock out too easily, they challenge only on the most basic of levels. Maybe all of that is true, but if you ask these same people what their favorite part of My Father My King was, it's likely they won't respond with "the 45 seconds it takes to hear anything at the beginning."
The key here is that it's no longer about the build-up, because for Mogwai, that is pass. Instead of looking at individual songs, it is the album which now has the feeling of tension-and-release: "Auto-Rock" is all about the militant drum-marching build-up to the massive "Glasgow Mega-Snake;" with such vibrant production and engineering, they've rarely sounded better. Just when you think you've dived head-long into an Isis record, "Acid Food" takes a near-alt-country route on its way to "Travel is Dangerous." Balance has been a fort of Mogwai's for many years, and this element is perhaps never expressed better than on a song actually worthy of the term "epic," "Friend of the Night." The piano comes through crystal-clear, yet beyond it lie guitars roaring with all the gusto of, yes, Loveless.
Most critics will happily call out "I Chose Horses" as their favorite because that gives them a chance to namedrop Craig Armstrong and Tetsuya Fukagawa in one breath. You know, the composer and the guy from Envy? Not ringing any bells? Well, there you are then. What's unfortunate is that the song that immediately precedes it, "Folk Death 95," is far superior in pure sonic currency... And speaking of pure sonic currency, one trick of post-rock is that, if you make every song sound like it could end an album, you should have already won the listener over. Only one song can literally close Mr. Beast, and "We're No Here" does so in the best of fashions.
I had little intention of jumping on a bandwagon for this album, especially after Alan McGee claimed it to be "possibly better than Loveless." Like post-rock, I've never been any great fan of Mogwai. If you aren't either, Mr. Beast is your album. Defiantly, they have reached another, greater plateau. Better than Loveless, no... But nevermind the mythology. If historians do not judge Mr. Beast to be exemplary, that is their problem; for the rest of us, it can only mean the greater glory of continual rediscovery when we hear it on our own terms. PMasterson
(links to websites, additional reviews, fansites, books, periodicals or any additional information on the album)