Scottish post-rock act Mogwai have had quite a long and enduring career since their formation in 1996, and many of their albums are now regarded as classics within the post-rock genre. Often considered one of the scene's most important acts, any new release from Mogwai is bound to gain a bit of buzz within the community, and their latest effort may have fans talking more than any of their previous outings. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is their eighth full-length studio album, and shows these veterans experimenting outside of the realm their trademark post-rock sound. While still firmly rooted in melancholic atmospheres and (for the most part) standard instrumentation, the occasional electronic-sounding vocal section and unique songwriting structure make this far from your average post-rock release. Mogwai's mild change in direction is ultimately a double-edged sword, but I'd say that this is generally a solid effort from Scotland's premier post-rock act. Fans of the band should definitely investigate this one.
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is mostly instrumental post rock - I'll get to the vocal sections later - with a strong emphasis on melody and repetition. In that sense, Mogwai plays fairly conventional music on this album, but the more-upbeat songs like "George Square Thatcher Death Party" and the use of synthesizer make this different from many post-rock outings. Although I like the idea of Mogwai using some singing to add variation into the mix, I must confess that I find the vocals to be pretty uninspired at best, and detrimental to the music at worst. Granted, the songs with vocals are the weakest compositions to begin with, but the electronically distorted and monotonous vocals really don't enhance the music here by any measure. A talented singer without all of the effects and gimmicks would've been much more effective. It's also worth noting that the songs with singing - "Mexican Grand Prix" and "George Square Thatcher Death Party" - are the weakest compositions by far, vocals aside, and lack the subtle beauty of a song like "Letters to the Metro". The tedious alternative/pop of the aforementioned tracks is not up alley, to say the least.
The production on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is professional and well-done. While being very focused on bringing bass and drums to the forefront of the mix, it still provides and balanced and even sound that comes across as crisp and enjoyable. I'd say this production suits the music perfectly.
Mogwai took bigger risks than usual with Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, and even though I can't say I'm a huge fan of it, the band's ability to reinvent themselves is noteworthy - especially in a genre as increasingly stagnant as modern post-rock. This may not be their best offering to date, but it's a solid installment and an easy recommendation to longtime fans of the band. I'd say a solid 3 stars are deserved here. If the couple of throwaway tracks were replaced with more quality material, I could've easily given this one a higher score, though.
1. White Noise (5:04)
2. Mexican Grand Prix (5:18)
3. Rano Pano (5:15)
4. Death Rays (6:01)
5. San Pedro (3:27)
6. Letters to the Metro (4:41)
7. George Square Thatcher Death Party (4:00)
8. How to Be a Werewolf (6:23)
9. Too Raging to Cheers (4:30)
10. You're Lionel Richie (8:29)