“Once something’s out in the world, it’s not yours anymore, it’s everyone’s,” Mogwai frontman Stuart Braithwaite reflects in the band’s performance film debuting their tenth studio album, As The Love Continues. “Yeah, I like that.”
It all started with track one, but “To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth” felt like the end, rather than a new beginning. Soft piano keys fell over a steady bassline, each instrument introducing itself one by one until the sounds fell into place. Full of static distortion, the guitar closed in before everything crashed down, escaping into a euphoric soundscape.
Braithwaite’s vocals were robotic, auto-tuned through the mic for “Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever.” Synthesized keyboards and a speedy drumbeat produced an engineered, ultra-electra sound. Flashing strobe lights accentuated a striking bridge; a whining guitar riff took over as the other sounds fell behind. “Dry Fantasy” kept on with the electronic theme, while mixing in cleaner guitar and steadier, weighty drums. The keyboard added an authenticity of emotion as it preluded the track’s heavy breakdown, full of striking cymbals and atmospheric effects, pulling people in and then blindsiding them.
Collaborating with The Flaming Lips’ producer Dave Fridmann to create the record, the importance of intricate production on the album was emphasized throughout the live performance, as sounds built upon themselves to create a fulfilled, all-consuming realm with nearly every track.
Reflective of David Berman, the late frontman of indie-rock group the Silver Jews, “Ritchie Sacramento” was an emotional standout and a beautiful momento of a departed friend. Braithwaite found his voice on the track, singing in a clean yet somber tone, “My oldest friend that I barely knew/ So much fun hanging around in the dark/ You stop time/ Managed to somehow find a way out of here.”
“Drive the Nail” introduced an organ-like sound effect evocative of The Doors, while the end featured a sharp, alienistic ringing noise, blending classic rock and modern production. Leering and disturbed, “Fuck Off Money” was six minutes of repetitive noise that ended on a twisted, gritty guitar note before the comically titled “Ceiling Granny” picked up the intrigue with a catchy, fluctuating guitar riff. “Midnight Flit” was an onstage standout, featuring orchestral strings and a cinematic progression.
Laying an optimistic sonic foundation from note one, “Pat Stains” carried a sense of hopefulness. That optimism was then taken over by a consuming space-rock sound, both chilling and faraway, which brought back a distinctive unsettledness, notably with the cutting sound of the saxophone, an interesting instrumental addition. The final track on the record, “It’s What I Want to Do, Mum,” was everlasting—literally, it’s nearly eight minutes long.
The show’s encore saw “How To Be A Werewolf” alongside “Like Herod.” The former was a smooth ambience pulled from the band’s 2011 record Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will, while the latter took its audience back to the ‘97 creation, Young Team. Both were a nod to Mogwai’s consistent yet matured sound, one that’s carried them through the decades, ten studio albums, all the way to now.
As The Love Continues brings the band’s post-rock, electra-influenced sound full-circle. The virtual show’s ending capped off a record that feels like an impressive balancing act: one part daring, the other…expectant.