Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011)

Sub Pop

Mogwai's new album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will has a lot working against it. It's less anthemic than its predecessor, the underrated The Hawk Is Howling. It's yet another record that defies the heavy rock of Mogwai's debut, Young Team. And on top of that, it takes a hilariously hardcore title and wastes it on a delicate post-rock album.

Speaking as a fan of Young Team's heaviness and Hawk's expansiveness in equal measures, I find Hardcore middling. Opener "White Noise" is hypnotically droning and announces a newfound love of electronics, but "Mexican Grand Prix" takes that love too far, with organ blaring and syncopated beats bumping. The whispered, vocoder-tweaked vocals seem superfluous. I'd rather just hear the keyboard line. Still, this makes for excellent background music.

Mogwai likes to rock, though, so Young Team fans should enjoy the lumbering "Rano Pano". This tune is slow and heavy, and while it could use a nice guitar freakout, there's something comforting about the way Mogwai adds layers and layers of noise in a nice succession.

But that's Hardcore's problem. It's too nice. It's not the worst Mogwai record (I'd go with Come On Die Young, personally), but it's certainly not their best, either. The record passes by pleasantly while it's on, but after a week of listening I'm still not retaining too much. Sure, it's instrumental music, but any Mogwai fan should be able to recall the guitar work on "Like Herod" or the way the drums and synth intertwine on "The Sun Smells Too Loud". Hardcore is perhaps too good at being subtle.

But hey, this is Mogwai we're talking about. Hardcore has plenty of ethereal charm coupled with the occasional foray in rawkin'. A limited edition bonus disc, featuring music for an art installation by Douglas Gordon and Olaf Nicolai, is appealing in an ambient way. At this point, Mogwai is just playing for the converted, but I'd still put their last three albums up against their first three any day.