Music Monday Post-Rock — “The Sun Smells Too Loud” by Mogwai
Posted by KingShamus on June 18, 2012
I’ve been posting a lot of super-aggro music lately. Sorry for fixating on face-punch grooves and carpet-bomb distortion. Let’s dial it back a tick. Or maybe seven ticks.
Mogwai is a Scottish post-rock band. As best as I can figure, ‘post-rock’ is shorthand for: Disaffected pseudo-intellectual hipster music, which might be instrumental or might have vocals, centered around repetitive riffs played at painting-drying pace, with vague lyrics and themes, sprinkled with an aversion to standard verse-chorus vocal arrangements, all wrapped up in the sex appeal of a cinder block.
But that’s sorta unfair and reductive.
A better definition would be: traditional rock and roll instruments and components being used in nontraditional ways.
Bands like Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Mono have guitars, drums, keyboards and vocalists. Instead of using them to create the blues-based song structures and patterns associated with rock music, these bands are going for a more textured approach. It’s about creating mood and atmosphere rather than the linear storytelling style we tend to think of as popular music.
As such, the music can be very hit or miss. There are few songs in the genre that connect in the same way that the more amped-up material in Led Zeppelin’s canon does. Rarely does a post-rock band nail the same kind of immediately danceable groove that a hip-hop or house artist will on a regular basis. The catchy hooks and easy sing-song melodies of Top 40 radio are mostly missing from most post-rock tunes. Where most popular music is immediately understood and visceral, post-rock is often studied and emotionally distant. Listening to post-rock material can be like listening to the soundtrack to a very precious indie-style film where bland thirty-something college grads try to come to grips with some dopey crap that nobody cares about for two and half hours until the plot just goes ppppphhhhttttt and the movie ends.
Having said that, I dig a lot of Mogwai’s tunes. Their records are spotty at times, but when they hit the right vibe it’s pretty great. If you need music to chill out to and don’t feel like listening to Sibelius or Enya, you can’t do much better than Mogwai.
Further: If you ever wanted to see a Tommy Seebach/Mogwai mash-up but didn’t know where to find it, here you go.