For the past 25 years, Mogwai have consistently delivered captivating records of instrumental rock, setting the standard for much of the scene to strive for. Their songs follow a formula of patiently building to an explosive crescendo of noise. Often with a sense of sadness, though occasionally a feeling of overcoming. Ten albums in and the band continue to make good on this blueprint that has earned so many dedicated fans. However, As the Love Continues does sound different from previous records. It’s more playful, and less restrained. It feels like Mogwai have loosened up a little. The result is a rich assortment of songs that showcase the multiple facets of the bands perceptions and inspirations.
At its core, As the Love Continues is still a stew of sounds from the various brackets of rock music, produced with a washy, yet gritty, aesthetic. Occasionally the distortion on the drums can feel overpowering, though I generally appreciate the album’s attitude towards cacophonous noise. There’s a beauty in leaving imperfect things alone, particularly with such expansive music. Overall, it’s one of their best sounding records to date.
The albums most engrossing moments tend to derive from moody soundscapes that slowly mutate. This is Mogwai’s bread and butter. However, it’s the likes of “Ritchie Sacramento” and “Fuck off Money” that makes As the Love Continues one of the band’s most varied albums to date. The former may prove divisive due to the faint, washed-out vocals of Stuart Braithwaite, but it does contribute towards the fine flow of the record. The latter just sounds like Moon Safari with loud distortion, and that’s fine too. Elsewhere, “Ceiling Granny” and “Drive the Nail” provide two fantastic foundations of instrumental rock, though as sacrilege as it is to say, I often find myself thinking they’d excel even further with a strong vocal performance.
It’s difficult to place why, but As the Love Continues feels more emotive than previous albums. I’ve certainly connected with it quicker than I ever did Every Country’s Sun, which was a far more passive affair. As pretentious as this may sound, Mogwai make grandiose and sophisticated music. Yet the band never exude an air of arrogance. As The Love Continues feels more like a direct reflection of the band’s thoughts, which leads to songs that sound more impulsive than anything before. Music that represents their feelings, rather than music made to make you feel. I should imagine their Mums are very proud indeed.
8 out of 10
I was ready to lavish this album with simpering, unconditional praise and slap an eight on it and prance into the sunset. Alas, it is merely very good. Floating out of post-rock orbit and towards the lighter, brighter moons of electronic (and even pop) music, As the Love Continues manages to feel both enterprising and tentative — an album caught between worlds.
The mix of tones is a genuine shift, which is commendable. Although Mogwai’s tight, dense fundamentals remain, they’re used in service of an altogether lighter sound than previous albums of theirs we’ve reviewed. “Dry Fantasy” has a sumptuous glitter sheen to it, a kind of sci-fi mirage, while “Ceiling Granny” sounds like an instrumental Weezer track of all things. The blend is unexpected, though I’m certainly not complaining.
My experience of the album has been that in covering more ground Mogwai seldom have time to set up camp and explore. Singing robots rub shoulders with synthesizers and power chords and grand pianos, all of which has to break through atypically muffled production. It’s bold, and every bit as solid as you’d expect, but for me it never quite hits the spot the way previous releases have.
7 out of 10
I’ve been harbouring a secret: Mogwai is not my bag. Though I had praise for Atomic and their previous LP, Every Country’s Sun, suggesting that ‘I can certainly see myself returning for more’ was maybe a bit ambitious. While much of Mogwai’s appeal is in their ability to slowly build large soundscapes, it can wear a little thin for me when that’s all an album has to offer.
As the Love Continues has made for a less wearing experience, however, and while it’s still taken time for me to warm up to it, this album feels varied and dynamic in a way I didn’t feel Every Country’s Sun did. Maybe that’s because of the first half of this tracklist. The eventual roaring, surging fuzz of the opener, the pacier kinetic beat of “Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever”, and the quivering and lumbering of “Dry Fantasy” all caught my attention within the first 15 minutes.
Given my reservations with slow builds, it’s probably unsurprising that “Ceiling Granny”, a track that blusters in with a crunchy riff and opens up with guitars stretching and wailing and fizzing, is a standout highlight of mine here. “Midnight Flit”, which follows, has some subtle signs of Atticus Ross’ contributions but is more notable for the ambitious orchestral arrangement he directed from LA with an orchestra in Budapest. A feat that paid off as strings glide and then tumble through an ethereal world the band builds over six minutes.
I won’t suggest that I’ll be rushing back to As the Love Continues. As with a lot of Mogwai’s work, this album is a beast to tackle. Consigned to background music doesn’t do it justice, and to pay it your full attention through these slow-burning builds often requires more patience than I’m willing to spare. But As the Love Continues has made for an expansive, impressive listen with some delicious moments of climactic eruption. For Mogwai fans, this should feel like a hit in the band’s discography, and for the rest, this is still worth a listen.
7 out of 10