Mogwai has been pumping out music for about 15 years now; during this time they've gained a fond following in fans of distorted post-rock through endless landscapes of heavy guitar and syncopated rhythms. In their latest addition to their ever growing discography, entitled Rave Tapes, we find the Scottish four piece attempting to expand upon what they've done on their last couple of albums, though their synthy, softer sound this time around may leave longtime fans wavering. Mogwai's music has always contained an ever evolving and insatiable quality that allows their ideas to develop and unfold over an extended span of time....these are records with the power to exist as breathing life forms, reflecting and representing human experiences. Imagine hiking through a mountain range, for example. You encounter and endure peaks and valleys, but once you've reached your destination the view was worth the journey. That is what listening to a Mogwai album feels like. They are meant to be experienced and reaching their conclusion is a rewarding effort.
Mogwai is an aging band, and like most groups that have endured lengthy careers, their sonic evolution has been imperative. Unfortunately, Rave Tapes turns out to be a half-hearted attempt at continued experimentation. Like a fresh film score, their previous full length, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was an excellent cross over into new structural territory, shifting to more spacious and dreamy atmospheres. Unfortunately such redeeming traits did not find a home on Rave Tapes, where dynamic shifts from soft to loud, a signature of the band, seem less prevalent than in previous records, and their use of electronics and synthesizers have become less tasteful as well. Perhaps it's their work on various film and television soundtracks that has influenced their musical concepts, but the album lacks the cohesive flow and build-up that Mogwai has been able to achieve in the past. The album does, however, have its highlights, like the syncopated "Remurdered", one of the only tracks on the album that shines through as a catchy and fully expanded piece.
Always on the move, Mogwai is not afraid to go in different directions, which only means we're due for a more embracing album from the band in the coming years. The band still deserves our respect; it's not easy to exist for more than a decade, continue releasing music that fans can love, all while attempting to develop a sound that evolves to remain relevant in the current landscape. We've seen Mogwai come back from not-so-successful albums before, and we're sure we'll see them do it again.