I don’t know what I would have done if I had found this Mogwai record when it came out or, honestly, any of the early Mogwai album when I first discovered post rock. I probably would have lost my mind with excitement and would be insisting to this day that it is an absolute classic. Instead, I finally got to Mogwai in my 30s and I am hearing this at nearly 40. My enthusiasm for post rock has waned a little, especially for this stuff, more on the mellower side.
That’s not to say I don’t like it. Mogwai does something that is still very much up my alley: they find a niche either between slowcore and post rock or ambient and post rock, depending upon the song. They can, at times, sound too much like other post rock artists (some of them who beat them to this style) but they are relatively diverse enough that the impression that they sound like “band x” disappears when the track changes. (The vocals really help in this regard given that so many post rock bands they sound like at times just don’t have singers.)
One of the things I find really appealing about Mogwai is how the manage to be pretty catchy for the genre while still maintaining the aesthetic. That can be tricky and there are plenty of post rock groups who go all in on the aesthetic in part because they don’t have the material. At times it feels like Mogwai write actual songs, rather than compositions, and this makes their music much more accessible (at times) than most of their contemporaries’.
But they’re not doing anything particularly unique or exceptional here. You can play spot the influences rather easily. And I do wonder if I am overrating the album just because I still like this style of music rather a lot. They are relatively diverse for the genre, sure, but that is a relative thing (and it’s still easy to play spot the influences with that diversity). It’s possible I like this too much to be objective but, at least at the moment, that is okay with me.