Mogwai have evolved into a collective of reputable soundtrack composers over the last 15 years. Ever since they first scored the captivating Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait documentary in 2006, which tracked the movements of the eccentric ex-French footballer during a 90 minute match, the Scottish post-rockers have built up an impressive portfolio that includes the haunting Les Revenants soundtrack in 2013 and, more recently, Sky Italian crime drama ZeroZeroZero.
The first four tracks on their 10th studio album ‘As The Love Continues’ furrow that same moody cinematic path. It was recorded remotely via Zoom with The Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann and frontman Stuart Braithwaite recently told NME the album was a “positive” LP and couldn’t be further from sounding like a “pandemic record”.
Expansive opener ‘To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth’ leans towards this sense of optimistic escapism, painting an almost Icelandic scene surrounded by lakes and trees with its glistening piano plinks and widescreen guitars. The bleepy ‘Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever’ comes on like a squalling robot singing in an alien language over distorted feedback and the soothing ‘Dry Fantasy’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sigur Rós album.
The excellent ‘Ritchie Sacramento’, meanwhile, could easily be made into a documentary of its own. Inspired by a story, about late Silver Jews frontman Dave Bergman throwing a shovel at a sports car, which former bandmate Bob Nastanovich posted online on the anniversary of his death, it’s the only track Mogwai frontman Stuart Braithwaite takes centre stage vocally, reflecting on friends lost as he cries “Disappear inside / All gone, all gone / It took a while just to think / Of homе, of home” over an infectious guitar hook and introspective bass.
Elsewhere, the melancholic ‘Fuck Off Money’ channels Daft Punk vocally, often sounding like a moping android stranded on the Moon. Unfortunately later tracks such as ‘Midnight Flit’ and ‘Pat Stains’, that worked brilliantly during the band’s livestream showcase, don’t quite pack the same punch on record. The unnerving ‘Drive The Nail’ feels like a sledgehammer to the songs that have gone before with its crashing guitars and bulldozing drum beat. It’s a hypnotic proposition onstage, but here feels a tad monotonous.
‘As The Love Continues’ is an album that opens beautifully but falls short at times during its second half. Then again, the whole record works so much better in a live setting – and will continue to do so when Mogwai finally hit the road again.
Release date: February 19
Record label: Rock Action Records