You know that old addage, if it works, don’t change it? Well, for long-time fans of Mogwai, it seems that this has sort of been their mantra for quite a while. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is the band’s seventh studio album, and while I honestly can’t say that I hate this record (not in the least), I also don’t think I’ll be able to say that I’m going to fawn over it for any lengthy period. That being said, it’s one of their better releases, of the last three or four.
“White Noise” sort of begins where you’d expect a new Mogwai album to lift off. It’s got some nice little guitar lines, one of those cymbal-heavy drum pieces, and then electronics begin to burst forth, though not in an overbearing fashion. It never really goes anywhere, yet it’s not like you’re asking the song to take you on some journey necessarily.
When you arrive at “Rano Pano,” that distorted guitar humming in the foreground really makes you hopeful, praying that the band’s just going to unleash a wall of sheer noise on you. And I suppose that in some manner, this is what they do provide, building guitar line upon guitar line, adding synthetic noise atop it all. However, the one thing that’s been unfortunate is that the band has such great prowess with their songwriting that they almost always show a fair amount of restraint. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is filled with songs that leave open the space for some sort of sonic explosion, like “Rano Pano,” yet they hold back. I reckon they’re probably laughing at us all, knowing that we’re here pleading for them to unleash some fury. If you’re looking for that, you’ll probably find that “San Pedro” is one of the tracks on this effort that fits the bill, and it’s sure to be one of those Mogwai stage songs where the band completely let loose, as they’ve been known to do on occasion.
Perhaps one of the oddballs in this collection, though one you should listen to, is “Letters to the Metro.” It’s by far one the quietest moment on Hardcore, and it’s possibly the most beautiful, if only in the sense that it doesn’t have the same tension building tactic that other songs utilize. These are the sort of tracks that you wish Mogwai would infuse in their albums more often, and not solely because they’re deemed “pretty,” but because they provide a more subtle step in the album’s pacing as a whole. They can clearly still show their craftsmanship as a band here, but it provides for a more dynamic listen.
As with all Mogwai records, I know that I’ll break this out at some point in my year, yearning for something that will just clear my head for a little bit, allowing the musical part of my brain empty out. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will should be seen as a band that seems to always maintain their skills, yet never forage into new territories. Perhaps, if you’re looking for a fault, it’s that this record, as well as a few in the past, doesn’t see the band trying to break into anything new and bold. Instead, it’s a good album, but nothing that will have us asking why aren’t there more bands like this one?