Come On Die Young
"What sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise is in fact the brilliant music of a genius. Myself." So declares one [a]Iggy Pop[/a] at the start of [B]'Come On Die Young'[/B]
Probably. As statements of intents go, 'punk rock' is a wonderfully casual warning: for the next 65 minutes Glaswegian sonic terriers Mogwai are about to stormtroop out of the speakers, armed with little more than a big load of trashy old noise and an attitude which says, 'Grrrrr. And grrr again.' It's thunder. It's frightening. Let's offload...
The pre-release rumours were strong, and most revolved around the giddy conceit that 'Come On Die Young' was going to differ from '97's debut 'Mogwai Young Team' in the sense that there would be a lot more singing, a load more orthodox 'songs' and a shiteload of juicy dance beats that Steps would sell their pearly white smiles for. Allegedly.
Rather splendidly, however, we find the '99 model of Mogwai in tip-top perverse condition, patiently playing to their strengths and praying to the good lord of sizzling effects. We have bone-crunching dynamics. We have squalls of extreme noise terror. We have Mercury Rev's studio dude Dave Fridmann behind the mixing desk in New York State. We have the deep understanding that Mogwai are making music which is pretty much as far 'out there' as you can get without growing your hair and choosing to play a gig to absolutely no people in somewhere like sod bastarding Pompeii in the early-'70s. Luckily.
As is traditional with this post-rock malarkey, some of the song titles are works of art in themselves: 'Oh! How The Dogs Stack Up' is two minutes of crackling piano doominess; 'Year 2000 Non-Compliant Cardia' is the most unorthodox three minutes of deliciously controlled mayhem you will hear this month; and 'Kappa' is a bit like 'Year 2000 Non-Compliant Cardia', only with fewer cymbals.
In fact, a few parts of 'CODY' sound a bit like each other. Eschewing the tradition for releasing albums which consist of two cheery hit singles and a barrel load of crap fillers, Mogwai make records which rely on more organically-inclined strengths and themes. And when they pile together three songs - 'Ex-Cowboy', 'Chocky' and 'Christmas Steps' - over the course of 29 stereo-fearing minutes you're struck by the fact that, far from creating a soundtrack for a drippy generation of drop-outs, Mogwai's muse is infused with a sense of fevered restlessness. Consider the way in which parts of 'Ex-Cowboy' make like Concorde taking off from your neighbour's kitchen, then ponder twitchily over the fact that, just as Bark Psychosis' 'Hex' album captured that wide-eyed essence of nocturnal carnage, so 'CODY' is way too demanding, too unsettling to merely act as background music for the indie bourgeoisie.
Which is the whole point. Sometimes 'CODY' is kind, sometimes it is cruel and at many times it is lovingly, leeringly abstract. Because this is
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