Whilst it doesn’t necessarily reach the heights of earlier work, Every Country’s Sun has everything you’d want in a Mogwai album. The sound is vast, vivid, and mostly compelling, as the band strike a fine balance between progression and familiarity. When Mogwai go massive, they erupt like a violent volcano that threatens imminent destruction — a trait that was at the forefront of 2015’s Atomic, and a loose attribute that actually stretches back to the band’s earliest works.
Significantly, they are just as masterful aiming for the other end of the dynamic spectrum, and it’s these subtler, almost graceful moments where Mogwai truly sound the part. “Don’t Believe the Fife” is one such highlight, standing with the band’s best work. At times, the formula of Sun borders on predictable, which is understandable given this is the band’s ninth LP, but thankfully there is enough experimentation to warrant the hour-long album length. “Party in the Dark” is an early welcome surprise, rocking wistfully like a New Order track, vocals ‘n all. Here Mogwai sound like a totally new band, and to an extent they are, but the foundations always resolve back to noisy post-rock.
The band don’t evolve as much as they do mutate, but what’s most significant is that their music still sounds important, achieving a sense of scale that similar bands can only dream of reaching. Therein lies the true value of Every Country’s Sun: Mogwai still possess the power to soundtrack any potential apocalypse that comes our way. The music is pretty great too, as it happens.
7 out of 10
Like a fair few people, I listened to Every Country’s Sun for the first time on its BBC Radio 6 midnight debut, and it was a pretty enchanting experience. My fondness for the record has dimmed slightly with repeat listens, but not by much. It’s muscular enough to meet the expectations of devotees, but it’s in the gentler moments that Sun really… shines. (Sorry.)
Stuart Braithwaite described the project as a kind of ‘shield’ against ‘a very turbulent, intense period’ in the Western world. Sympathise or not with his view, a sense of fancy and indulgence is palpable. There is something almost childlike about much of the album; boys with their toys finding solace in a soundscape playpen. The old school groove of “Crossing the Road Material” is a standout, as are the mystical odes of “1000 Foot Face”. The apocalyptic edge of Atomic thunders down from time to time as well, especially in “20 Size”.
The album’s full of powerful, seductive moments, no two quite the same. This makes for pleasant listening, though it does sometimes feel symptomatic of a lack of cohesion. Every Country’s Sun is gorgeous for its own sake, which is plenty of gorgeous to go around, but it seems a shame not to harness the energy a little more pointedly. Maybe that’s just not Mogwai’s style, but it keeps me further away than I’d like.
As is probably appropriate, Every Country’s Sun listens like an immense post-rock mass of warmth, light, and/or incineration. Think of it as a spa day for your ears with the promise of a light singe.
8 out of 10
With a number of very solid soundtracks under their belts, Mogwai has forged quite a wide ranging sound for themselves, and the lead singles, and album openers, from Every Country’s Sun do a good job of showing that range off. “Coolverine”, an atmospheric, pensive simmer, sits next to “Party in the Dark”, a moody, well-paced alt-rock track with a satisfying, distant vocal line. The variety is prevalent through the entire 57-minute tracklist, with “aka 47” holding the listener in suspense as it builds and swells and twinkles, fizzing to a climax before dissipating, it makes for a visceral listen at times albeit a bit of a slow burn.
If I could ask for more of anything, I’d look towards “Battered At a Scramble” and “Old Poisons” as examples. Both raucous guitar cacophonies that come as a welcome rocky ride after a midsection of calm. The contrast of noisy crunch next to placid beauty is what makes Every Country’s Sun sound more like an LP than an OST and is likely what makes this an easier tracklist for me to enjoy next to their Atomic soundtrack. All said, Mogwai have made a successful return to the studio album format, and with a good pace and tracklist that, despite its length, doesn’t outstay its welcome. I can certainly see myself returning for more.
7 out of 10