Here lies nothing beyond what the guitarmy ranks were expecting: Mogwai’s curtain-raising single, preceding the forthcoming full-length Mr Beast, is as arrestingly beautiful as the dawning sun over hills full of nobody, nothing but a single oak tree silhouetted against a wash of oranges and pinks, clouds of amber; as serene as the moon’s reflection in a still, tropical sea, fireflies from the nearby white-sand shore dancing themselves dizzy about the only lantern on board the smallest fishing vessel. It’s exactly right and effectively precise: every minor lurch, every subtle fret board stretch, is calculated; these Scottish masters of the emotive, of an affecting and all-consuming wall of sound, have skilfully predicted every tingle that runs from your elbow to fingernails and back, then down past the knees to the toes, freezing you, statuesque. They command the listener’s feelings as if they - as if we - were but puppets on strings.
Therefore, in a strange way, you could read ‘Friend Of The Night’ as somewhat contrived – it treads no new ground, and Mogwai have many an instrumental masterpiece to their name already; this is unlikely to be so highly revered by long-term fans whatever its initial impact (which is considerable in these days of jangling retro tykes). Still – and pardon the slip into critical cliché – it does entirely what it says on the tin (okay, sleeve). You read Mogwai, you hear Mogwai, you’re moved by Mogwai and then you buy the new album by Mogwai. Simple, calculated,_ et cetera._
So, brilliant or by-numbers? Superb or the same-ol' shite? It’s your call, oh guitarmy infantry...
7Mike Diver's Score