Mogwai has been a much-loved stalwart of alternative music over the last 25-years since they formed in Glasgow back in 1995. The group, who are still firing on all cylinders in the same uncompromising manner that they have always done, now celebrate ten albums to their internationally recognised name. As Love Continues, their tenth record to date, sees the band rebel against the idea of toning down their sound with age and, instead, Mogwai moves even more left-field and diversify their sonic palette further than ever before.
The long-road to success that Mogwai has traversed across over the last few decades has seen them venture down a path that is uniquely their own. As a band, the show no-signs of conformity on As Love Continues, a project which is everything that their most loyal and ardent fans would expect to hear from the group. However, if you were not previously on board good shop Mogwai over the last quarter of a century, then it’s unlikely that you’ll fall in love with their new record.
The album saw them team up again with Dave Friddman, who was at the helm for their 2017 effort Every Country’s Sun, and has notched up work with bands such as Interpol, Tame Impala, The Flaming Lips and MGMT to bolster his impressive CV. Although a global pandemic held them back from travelling to America to create the record, Friddman instead conducted the Zoom sessions in what is a new commonplace creative reaction for the music industry. The result is an expansive piece of work that is quintessentially Mogwai.
Mogwai, in truth, has never been accessible or easy to listen to. As Love Continues is a record that requires you’re unrequited attention to fully appreciate their distorted blend of sounds that creates a colourful kaleidoscope, one that they use to their advantage across the interchanging collection of songs. Like most of the band’s work, they don’t rely on lyrics to carry a track, and again they primarily opt for the instrumental approach across large sections of the record, a decision which has served them fine before and does so again on their latest effort.
‘Dry Fantasy’ is a splendid five-minute trip that offers up a beautiful form of escapism, transporting the listener to the most blissful place. The track proves just why Mogwai has become one of the most sought after composers for films over the last 15 years. As an outfit, the band don’t require lyrical content to make the listener profoundly feel and fill the gaps in themselves.
‘Ritchie Sacramento’ is the only track that sees frontman Stuart Braithwaite lend his voice in a traditional sense, and the result is a triumphant one. It feels as though the first three tracks on the album build-up to this moment and, before we hear a voice on the record, every note feels precious. The track is then followed up by the wickedly brilliant ‘Drive The Nail’, which captures Mogwai at their darkest on the record as the album takes an unexpectedly ominous twist.
The record is long by today’s standards and, with a running time of over an hour, the second half of the album doesn’t quite have that same captivating factor that oozes out of the first section of the record. It does pick up again for the last tracks, ‘Supposedly, We Were Nightmares’ and the delightfully named ‘It’s What I Want To Do, Mum’, but ‘Midnight Flit’ particularly feels like a futile addition to the record.
There’s more than the occasional spot of self-indulgence on show from Mogwai across the record. Still, that same self-indulgent part of their collective brain leads to these incredible grandiose moments that epitomise what Mogwai are capable of doing. Their experimental nature means they occasionally miss the spot, or a track outstays its welcome, but, overall, the record is a rousing way to spend an hour.