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Album Cover Mogwai - Come On Die Young (Chemikal Underground)

An album that begins with Iggy Pop pontificating on the subject of punk rock would, you'd think, rumble on to gritty guitar licks and thunderous riffing. But Mogwai never have been predictable. 'Young Team' was little more than noise, broken up with tense mellow moments that almost sucked you into a contented trance before walls of rock-solid feedback knocked your innards clean out of your stunned body. That LP was structured noise, noise that people really wanted to listen to, and the kind of noise that no other musician could ever create.

To begin the second coming with an old noise-merchant like Iggy Pop seems a logical enough progression but 30 minutes into the album there's a sense that something's wrong. As of yet, there has been no flesh-peeling power-chords and no penetrating white noise. Surely Mogwai couldn't survive without their life's source. But 'Punk Rock' is entrancingly melodic, 'CODY' is breathless and soothing, 'Waltz For Aidan' is hypnotic in its minimalism and the sweetly-titled 'May Nothing But Happiness Come Through Your Door' is a low-budget musical nirvana.

Not that there ever was anything childish about Mogwai but they seem to have grown up. 'Come On Die Young' is infinitely more accomplished than its predecessor and, without the scary injections of brutal feedback, it is the most exhilarating line in easy-listening you're likely to find today.

It strikes me as a pity, though, that such genuinely intelligent and impressive tunes will, for some inexplicable and unfortunate reason, always be mere background music.

by Michael Gleeson.