Crescendocore became popular for a reason
When considering the band Mogwai, the force of their influence can often escape newer listeners. Yes, Mogwai has long since drifted out of the “mainstream” appeal that they once had (it was never truly mainstream, just more influential), but in the years since the group released Every Country’s Sun, they have been slowly reclaiming their influence. As The Love Continues sees Mogwai digging back into their roots while carrying forward the lessons that the leaves have learned. It’s their most complete record since Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, it may even be their best since Come on Die Young, but the question remains, why is this record so damn good?
As with all things Mogwai, the answer boils down to structure and tone. Mogwai doesn’t ever show you why they’re exceptional musicians in the way that a jazz artist or metal band might. They don’t care whether or not people recognize their abilities and proficiency. They respect people as a consumer of music, and believe that people will respect them (or at least their intent) as they break down the barrier between the entertainer and the entertained. Instead of flashy riffs and soaring vocals, people receive a complex mood distilled into a drop of perfection.
Take for instance, “Dry Fantasy.” By and large, this song is static. It remain structurally stoic for almost its whole runtime. What Mogwai has done here is break their own mold of crescendocore, and instead stretch that mold across an entire album. When compared to something like the seminal “Mogwai Fear Satan” off of their classic Young Team, “Dry Fantasy” seems positively banal. But that track is the low to “Ritchie Sacramento’s” endless highs. While the song does ebb and flow, it does it like a ridgeline. Always high, just varying in altitude. This also takes place on “Ceiling Granny,” which has all the hallmarks of a ’90s post-rock anthem. It even includes the same warping sound heard on Electric Wizard’s essential “Funeralopolis,” which they use to indicate a song passage where the volume is too loud to remain a guitar note.
Having listened to these tracks, it’s no surprise why crescendocore, a song structure entirely reliant on massive swells and the silent, sparse valleys between them, became so popular. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on the brilliantly titled “Fuck Off Money.” The song pulls from Mogwai’s more experimental era, particularly Rave Tapes, and mashes it together with the tried and true sound of their earlier material. The result is a crescendo that swells without soaring away and valleys that morph into something inhumanely sparse. One cannot help but be struck by the way the band has reclaimed their former brilliance with stunning ease. The fact that they brought their newer taste into this format only makes the track more formidable. This phenomenon is most readily observed in the closing track “It’s What I Want to Do Mum,” which blends the atmospheric elements of rave tapes with the crushing guitars of their more intense days. The resulting track is nostalgic and unnerving in the same breath.
Mogwai satisfies. They grow upon people like vines wrapping around a trellis. The crescendocore that they invented hooks one into a tube of adrenaline and pumps them full. Their ability to pull this off never dulled or wavered, they only left it dormant to play in other realms. But hearing this and feeling one’s heart pull its way skyward, the world opens up. Crescendocore was popular for a reason. Mogwai was popular for a reason. As The Love Continues is here to assert itself as deeply compelling evidence for the gargantuan artistic value of both.