With a quick glance in the rear-view mirror, Mogwai is building a solid and masterful new album. As The Love Continues sounds like a synthesis of a Post Rock reference band.
In 26 years of a rich and long career, the Glasgow-based Scottish quartet of Stuart Braithwaite, Barry Burns, Domnic Aitchison and Martin Bulloch remains one of the monuments of Post Rock. Even to this day, their singularity and artistic talents still attract fans and new listeners with "almost" as much appeal as before. Mogwai is also a magnificent notoriety based on the atmospheric and noisy timbre that they put into their music and which are their particularities. Their longevity can also be explained by their multiple conceptual projects and the stylistic evolutions they have been able to put in place to diversify, without losing this creative ambition. Basing their influences on the legacy of the pioneers of Post-Rock Slint and Talk Talk, Mogwai have also been greatly influenced by the Post-Punk scene of the 70/80s with the Cure or the Wire, the Alternative Rock/Shoegaze/Slowcore and the No Wave of the 80/90s for their Noise Rock aesthetic (Sonic Youth, My Bloddy Valentines, The Jesus and The Marie Chain). In addition their influences from the Berlin school, bringing together the precursors of electronic music and Krautrock like Can or Neu, which have always remained one of the main bases of their spine. Having started with a more rock sound, alternating between Noise Rock and Slowcore, Mogwai then gradually evolved towards something more electronic and ambient but without ever abandoning their basic formulas. Moreover for a listener unfamiliar with these musical styles and this group, will find many similarities at first on each of their albums. In the mid 2000s, Mogwai will start playing film and serial music until in the 2010's it will become the main ambition, especially after the departure of one of the founding members John Cummings. Since the Hardcore album Will Never Die, But You Will. (released in 2011), Mogwai seems logically on the decline artistically, displaying more and more mixed content. However, given the exceptional period we are living through, one wonders if their latest album As The Love Continues could be the album that could both revitalize the band and also allow us to escape for the space of an hour.
The very first thing we can say about As The Love Continues is that Mogwai don't really come out of their instrumental and atmospheric formulas that make their identity, however this new album seems to be an intentional step backwards, towards one of the more traditionally structured and Indie sounds. While the band has been accustomed for more than a decade to the more formalized song format, especially accentuated by film soundtrack projects that require more freedom of expression. It's not that Mogwai has taken a 180-degree turn, far from it, but As The Love Continues contains a perfect synthesis of their career brought together on a single album. This observation at first glance only becomes more pronounced as the experience unfolds and even more so when it is played several times. In fact, Mogwai managed to offer a solid and refreshing album for a band with such an impressive longevity, especially since it's not the kind of band that disappears for a long period of time, the guys are still active every year. It's by releasing the pressure of their ambitious project that they managed to create a new album as pleasant and uncomplicated. Taking from their experiences and evolution to go back to something more fundamental in their eyes seems to be a kind of nostalgic feeling, but in my opinion As The Love Continues is not only to look back, it is also there to show that the road has been long and that nothing is over. This album is not only about « déjà vu ».
However, Mogwai seems to be heading in new directions again, notably with Fuck Off Money and Here We, Here We Go Forever on a more electronic niche, which adds extra depth to the album. However what I liked best was when Mogwai synthesized all the pure Post-Rock raw essences that are their charms, first of all with the unique Ritchie Sacramento sung song where we find a Mogwai more pop than ever. The extravagant and oppressive Drive The Nail or the fantastic Midnight Flit demonstration which remains my favorite song of the album (with the participation of Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails all the same). Not forgetting the progressive and minimalist introduction that submerges you directly into the subject. All in all, it is true that Mogwai doesn't revolutionize anything here, and that As The Love Continues remains quite far from the level of their flagship albums, yet it is a very enjoyable experience that I will take pleasure in revisiting in the near/distant future. You can already see it in its construction, the album is gradually advancing, alternating between calm and storm, showing that Mogwai always know how to draw beautiful soundscapes, full of richness and depth. Everything is far from being perfect, moreover I would have liked the album to be lighter by 10/15 minutes because over 1 hour everything is not unquestionable. However, if it's normal to show a little indulgence with a band of this longevity, As The Love Continues managed to convince me that the band's status is not so good because it's a good experience, with licked and punchy textures, which moreover allows us to escape a little and free our imagination in the current context. Bravo to them.