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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Mr. Beast

Rating: 7/10 ?

March 20, 2006
The hype surrounding Mogwai's latest effort, Mr. Beast, has pretty much all but gotten out of hand. The band's manager advanced the notion of divinity when he remarked that the Scottish troupe's fifth album was "the greatest art-rock record I've been involved in since My Bloody Valentine's Loveless," but the only justification for such an outlandish claim is for the sake of publicity; Mogwai's latest effort could hardly been seen as even a moderate step in their evolution of post-rock supremacy. Even as the band took the initiative to reference earlier albums (Come On Die Young, Young Team) in an effort to define their new record's sound, their nostalgic sentiments laid the groundwork for a mild disappointment. This is not to say Mr. Beast is a terrible album, but for those of us who have been burned by far too many claims of post-rock coups a cautious approach is warranted, the Mogwai's public critiques of other bands having over-saturated the hype machine. Mr. Beast is simply a decent album from a seminal band.

Getting back to their roots was obviously a conscious decision, and for the most part Mogwai gets it right. With songs like "Glasgow Mega Snake" and "Folk Death 95," the crashing waves of shoe-gaze radiance have certainly been delivered in trademark Mogwai fashion, but initial reaction has been bedlam over beauty. While layered guitars and turbulent drum interplay have been part of the Glasgowians' back catalog, so have the mathy Slint-styled post-rock flavors of songs like "Christmas Steps" and "Summer" - both of which have been abandoned. So what we are left with is Mogwai's man-handling eruptions, sparse song arrangements intertwined amongst softly sung jaunts and moments of pure bliss, a complex yet frustrating experience in audio.

Mr. Beast is by far Mogwai's most accessible album to date, teetering between epic hard rock and a melodic, driven vocal delivery. "Travel is Dangerous" certifies that Mogwai's crusade for new converts, using their affinity to curate a modern rock song that not only delivers the massive wall of guitars with an actual steady beginning, middle and end, but also delivers an ambitious leaning of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic experimentation that deviates from a typical song structure.

In terms of the more space-rock oriented songs, like album highlight "Friend of the Night," "Team Handed" and "Emergency Trap," the band lacks the beauty they were able to once channel. Mogwai's comforting warmth is lost in Mr. Beast's agenda (which is to rock out more than to enrapture), and that could very well be the album's biggest downfall. Still, Mr. Beast is certainly a release to be reckoned with, provided that there is the initial understanding that the excessive publicity and ensuing commotion surrounding it is nothing but marketing for the Mogwai demographic. As easy as it is to shrug off its immediate impact with a detached wait-and-see-ism, Mr. Beast does grow on the listener after repeated listens, writing off Mr. Beast entirely as an irrelevant piece of work that's been churned for the masses is harder to do. Mr. Beast is a far cry from Mogwai's Loveless, but instead is a moderate extension of post-rock ear candy from a band yet to hit their high water mark.

Reviewed by Mark Taylor
A senior LAS staff writer, Mark Taylor is a 29 year old father of a 5 year old son and husband to a wife of 6 years, living the simple life in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC.

See other reviews by Mark Taylor



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