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Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling

Mogwai, The Hawk Is Howling

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

MOGWAI paint pictures in sound. As artists, they truly deserve to be remembered among the greats.

Sixth studio album The Hawk Is Howling is another majestic piece of work. A moody, atmospheric, yet achingly beautiful collection of instrumental tracks, the album conveys more without words than a lot of bands can muster in any of their lyrics.

Much like Sigur Ros, they exist on an epic, even heightened state of grace that also displays some ethereal touches. But unlike Sigur Ros, there’s a deft grittiness about them too. Hence, while tracks like Thank You Space Expert could provide the beautiful backdrop to another stunning David Attenborough natural world documentary, others such as Danphe And The Brain could easily find a place on the soundtrack to another Michael Mann movie (much like Auto Rock and We’re No Here did with Miami Vice).

As ever, guitars are very much at the forefront of the Glasgow quintet’s sound, but while there are similarities between some of the songs and their earlier work, it’s also continually moving forward, continually being refined, and continually striving to stay one step ahead of its time. Many of the tracks evade a sense of time or place, existing in a timeless state that means they’re ripe for being discovered now or by future generations without necessarily sounding dated.

The highlights range from the fiery, provocative likes of former single Batcat (a personal favourite), layered slow-burner and album opener I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead (a hands down instant classic), the upbeat – by their standards – The Sun Smells Too Loud, and the fragile, yet beautiful Thank You Space Expert.

Final track, The Precipice, is a suitably rousing, even dangerous piece of music that draws the album to a sublime close.

As ever, Mogwai’s latest collection barely skips a beat and almost always continues to impress to a very high standard.

Download picks: I’m Jim Morisson, I’m Dead, Batcat, Danphe And The Brain, The Sun Smells Too Loud, Thank You Space Expert

Track listing:

  1. I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
  2. Batcat
  3. Daphne and the Brain
  4. Local Authority
  5. The Sun Smells Too Loud
  6. Kings Meadow
  7. I Love You, I’m Going to Blow Up Your School
  8. Scotland’s Shame
  9. Thank You Space Expert
  10. The Precipice