Feb 04, 2014 Web Exclusive
Sadly, post-rock heroes Mogwai continue to plod along by either replicating their former triumphs in a less effective, less effecting, and generally sheeny-shinier manner or by loafing around with the cack-handed utilization of "progressive" electronic elements. In the latter category, "Remurdered" sees the band half-heartedly fumbling for a new direction down the back of Errors' couch while listening to Kraftwerk. Later, the gloomy guitar tones of "Deesh" are swamped by soulless synth chords. In the former category, "Repelish" borrows a music-themed spoken-word sample to far feebler effect than the spectacular Iggy-flaunting "Punk Rock:" from 1999's Come On Die Young. "Heard About You Last Night" tries to recall the moodiness of the group's earlier work, but polishes itself into failure. The choppy guitar work on "Mastercard" will excite only those who've never managed to listen to Big Black or Shellac.
Stuart Braithwaite's cheerless vocals make their whispered return on "Blues Hour." It's one of Rave Tapes' highlights, but is it any better than past glories "Cody" or "Tuner?" Nope. "No Medicine For Regret" can be summed up by the words "quite nice," but nothing really happens that you wouldn't expect or haven't heard them do better before. Come to think of it, that sums up Rave Tapes as a whole.
They'll all sound better live 'n' loud, but will any of these tracks be repeatedly requested by gig-goers? Will any of them make the setlist of the Mogwai world tour in, say, 2017? Unlikely. With even the songs' titles not up their usual smirk-inducing standards, there is little reason to listen to Rave Tapes over any of Mogwai's previous records. After the group's ace work on Les Revenants and Zidane, Rave Tapes makes a compelling case for Mogwai to abandon studio albums altogether in favor of sticking to soundtrack work from now on. (www.mogwai.co.uk)
Author rating: 4/10
Average reader rating: 8/10