Atomic by Mogwai (Rock Action)

Mogwai’s new album, Atomic, released April 1, doesn’t quite hold up with their classics like Young Team (1997) or Mr. Beast (2006), but it certainly isn’t a throw away. Instead of the songs all building into a mountain of heavy distorted guitar layers, Mogwai now lets the keyboards and synthesizers hold down the melody, which gives this latest release a more modern feel.

The album was created as the soundtrack to the documentary Atomic: Living In Dead And Promise by director Mark Cousins. Mogwai’s unique style lends itself towards this kind of project.

Ever since their inception, Mogwai has built a career on long, slow drones to get lost in. Though Atomic was made to be listened to as a backdrop to a film, it still plays like any other Mogwai album, with each moment of brilliance reconciling the amount of notes it takes to get there.

Still, this album has less extended jamming than previous releases by the band; no song breaks the six-minute mark. It feels more concise and focused as a whole compared to their other work—most likely as a result of maturity and growth from a now over-20-year existence.

Like the rest of Mogwai’s long, dense catalog of music, the songs on Atomic are mostly comprised of slow dramatic builds into surprisingly pleasing climaxes. The album does not get anywhere near the genius of fan favorites like “Auto- Rock,” “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,” or “Mogwai Fear Satan,” but it is still worth a listen. Where Atomic lacks in its journey it makes up for with clear direction.

Dylan Streight
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