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Mogwai: Come On Die Young



Album: Come On Die Young
Label: Matador

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It's fascinating how the British frequently latch on en masse to music that could never rise above the underground in America. Scotland's Belle And Sebastian, for example, are U.K. magazine staples, while Mogwai—also Scottish—holds sway over the English in a way few American indie-rock acts can claim in their own country. One reason these would-be superstars are so often reduced to cult status in America is radio play. In the U.K., small bands can (sometimes) successfully vie with such chart staples as The Spice Girls and Oasis, if only because they often have an outlet on the airwaves more powerful than some small volunteer college station. Consequently, while The Jam, The Smiths, and The Wedding Present gradually rose from grass-roots favorites to arena-packing contenders in the U.K., because of the conservative (or corrupt) nature of radio in this country, none would (or did) ever really succeed in America. But back to Mogwai. Notorious for its extreme shifts in volume, the generally instrumental band built its reputation in the U.K. on what the British press like to call post-rock, but what the average American listener might instead simply deem, well, instrumental indie-rock. Call it "post-exciting." That is to say, there's really nothing remarkable about Mogwai's records, save the hype the English toss at them. Case in point: Come On Die Young, the band's second full-length, is little more than a rote exploration of moody space-rock atmospherics. Dynamic though not jarring, and pleasant though not especially pretty, this stuff is so commonplace in America that Mogwai may as well be American. Maybe in the land of Britpop, where the average U.K. act hasn't progressed far beyond Bolan, Bowie, and The Beatles, Mogwai's studio droppings are somewhat novel, but here, this stuff can't help but be lost in all the dorm-room racket.