‘Every Country’s Sun’ may be seen by some as Mogwai’s first peek above ground since 2014’s acclaimed Rave Tapes – but they would most certainly be wrong.
Since ‘Rave Tapes’ – which saw the band revitalise their signature style of post-rock – Mogwai has released an EP, issued a career-spanning greatest hits box set, soundtracked Mark Cousins acclaimed documentary ‘Atomic: Living In Dread & Promise’ and contributed music to the feature length documentary ‘Before The Flood’. All this while writing and recording their follow up studio album ‘Every Country’s Sun’.
As with many of Mogwai’s songs and albums, it’s hard to tell sometimes if a title is in some way a bold political statement or another dose of Glaswegian sarcasm. When ‘Every Country’s Sun’ was announced, its title was taken in by many as a call for unity in a world overwhelmed by austerity, terrorism, war and Donald Trumps. However, it actually comes from a friend of the band who, with award-winning naivety, believed every country on earth literally had its own sun.
No matter how silly the story though, ‘Every Country’s Sun’ prevails as a contender for the band’s best album yet. Opening track and the albums first single, ‘Coolverine’ pulsates throughout with a swinging drumbeat, melding layers of gorgeous guitar over a thundering bass section. ‘Party in the Dark’ appears to channel influence from Connecticut shoegaze band ‘Have A Nice Life’, punching riffs and austere drum beats mixing perfectly with Stuart Braithwaite’s echoey vocals. This is an excellent addition to the small cluster of songs containing lyrics to be released by the band.
‘Every Country’s Sun’ at times comes across as an exciting melting pot of textures and styles Mogwai have embraced in previous albums. ‘Crossing The Road Material’ could easily be a track from ‘Come On, Die Young’ with its building quality and the emotionally explosive second half. ’20 Size’ also sounds like Mogwai embracing the youthfulness of ‘Young Team’ their now classic debut record, with the brittle tone of its opening notes, its melody almost passive aggressive in nature, impatient for the moment when it can explode into its amazingly satisfying cacophony of noise and destruction. These tracks aren’t simple nostalgia trips though, they are layered with a fresh enthusiasm that is fantastic to see a band going as long as Mogwai have.
Not much in the album calls back to ‘Rave Tapes’ however. Where ‘Rave Tapes’ was driven by electronics, calculated and tightly packaged, this album is raw and incredibly visceral. Aside from the tranquillity in songs like ‘aka-47’ and ‘Don’t Believe The Fife’, ‘Every Country’s Sun’ is a rock album through and through.
The trio of tracks that close the album only serves to prove my point. The cymbals on ‘Battered at a Scramble’ bleed and pound all over the mix, giving the song so much power. The power doesn’t let up but instead transitions right into ‘Old Poison’ which from start to finish is filled with grungy, squealing guitars. And while the closing title track of the album slows down, its moody synths and delayed guitars build and build into an earth shattering climax.
‘Every Country’s Sun’ is a continuation of a band riding a huge wave of creativity. With Post-Rock being a genre that has been plagued with stylistic cliches, Mogwai has been able to attach something new to their sound with every release, an ability that has been ever more evident since Rave Tapes and all the releases following it, including this one.
The first adjective that came to mind to describe the album was it felt ‘human’. The melodies were evocative and the playing was emotional. However, after further listening to the word ‘human’ no longer fits, it might have before, with albums like ‘Happy Song’s For Happy People’ but there is only one word to describe this release. ‘Every Country’s Sun’ is an animal. It is King Kong let loose on New York City.
Fav album: Solid Air – John Martyn