Mogwai’s ninth studio album is their first without founding guitarist John Cummings, and also the first since 2001’s ‘Rock Action’ to be produced by Dave Fridmann. Both personnel changes are felt for the better: the band luxuriate in the space provided by Cummings’ departure, creating songs that are markedly less claustrophobic than their recent predecessors, while Fridmann’s knack for exploiting that kind of atmosphere with shimmering texture and poised stillness is executed rather handsomely.
It all contributes to some of the best music Mogwai have made this century: the twin towers of ‘Coolverine’ and the title track both build majestically towards grand, heroic fuzz and bookend the album pretty exultantly. Between them, ‘Crossing The Road Material’ and ‘Don’t Believe The Fife’ provide unexpected earworms while ‘Old Poisons’ suggests the band’s knack for exhilarating ferocity shows no sign of abating with age.
Retaining a signature sound without becoming repetitive is a challenge for any band entering their third decade together, but it’s one that Mogwai confront expertly here: the music within (and, indeed the sense for iconic track nomenclature) is still unmistakably Mogwai – soundscapes range from the insidious to the euphoric – but retooled with both more air and more purpose than the group have displayed for years. It makes ‘Every Country’s Sun’ feel quietly triumphant; the sound of a band renewed and a personality reasserted.
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