Mogwai – Mogwai Young Team; Come on Die Young
Scottish post-rock ensemble Mogwai have created a lush catalog of studio releases, soundtracks and live albums over their nearly 30-year career. Now, the band’s first two albums are back in print for the first time in more than a decade.
Released in 1997, Mogwai’s debut, Young Team is more stripped down compared to the group’s later releases, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful or engaging. The album starts slowly, fading in with opener “Yes! I Am a Long Way from Home,” gradually building with each piece. Although each of the 10 songs are distinct pieces, they often intentional blur into each other.
The 11-minute epic “Like Herod” rides a tense bassline from Dominic Aitchison before rupturing into violence. Album closer “Mogwai Fear Satan” clocks in at more than 16 minutes and remains a live favorite.
Between these titanic tentpoles, Mogwai present emotionally powerful, mostly wordless compositions. “Tracy” is built around pieces of a phone conversation with a cinematic arrangement foreshadows the group’s successful second career as soundtrack composers. The solemn “R U Still In 2 It” is the only song with lyrics, detailing the mundanity of a relationship going nowhere.
Two years later, Mogwai dropped Come on Die Young, their second album. An extended sample of Iggy Pop speaking on a Canadian talk show opens the album, setting up “Cody” as close to a traditional song as the band had done up to that point, with sung vocals.
The rest of Come on Die Young doesn’t contain as many surprises, but does a good job maintaining a melancholy mood. Mogwai’s sophomore album doesn’t contain the range of emotion and dynamics of Young Team, making Come on Die Young tougher to get into, but once inside it delivers a myriad of subtle joys. – Joel Francis