Essential New Music: Mogwai’s “Every Country’s Sun”

Every band believes it’s special and unique. Even those ruffians butchering Pantera covers at your local health-code disaster masquerading as a hip craft brewery is convinced they’re leading a creative revolution. Assuredly, loads of bands presume they’re on par with what Mogwai has accomplished over the course of 20-plus years and nine albums simply because the group has replaced the customary commonality of a frontperson with a phalanx of delay pedals. But where others stagnate in sonic exploration, the nature of this particular (mostly) instrumental beast means that the evolution never stops.

Every Country’s Sun demonstrates that the reported softening of Mogwai’s sound (which, depending on definitions of “soft,” either began with previous album, 2014’s Rave Tapes, or has been happening since 2001’s Rock Action) hasn’t curtailed the adventure crammed into first single “Coolverine,” which deconstructs and grows an austere, ascending punk riff over shape-shifting drums. Then there’s “Brain Sweeties,” which sounds like the soundtrack to an unheralded indie horror flick; “Crossing The Road Material” screams “Top down! Tits out! Road trip!” and “Don’t Believe The Fife” is dependable, post-rock plink ’n’ pummel. Just to rub it in, the Scots offer up “Party In The Dark,” quite possibly the best ’80s-tinged indie-rock song written since the ’80s.

There are moments where glorified interludes and wispy soundscapes with little tension, less direction and even less release present as songs and dampen the overall momentum, but you could view these as contrast and dynamics moving beyond single-song confines. Whatever the case, there are hard and soft edges all over Every Country’s Sun, and both accounts have made us happy campers. Again.

Kevin Stewart-Panko