"The Hawk Is Howling " by Mogwai (2008)
The Rawk is Rowling.
If you don't count the scores that Mogwai have done recently for the Hugh Jackman movie The Fountain (technically a collaboration with composer Clint Mansell) and the documentary Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, then The Hawk Is Howling is now Mogwai's sixth album proper and first since 2006's decent but under-whelming (upon careful study) Mr. Beast. Where Mr. Beast stumbled was Mogwai's repeated use of vocals when the powerful Scottish band have always been better at letting their music speak for itself. The Hawk Is Howling corrects that problem by nixing any sort of vocals whatsoever and Mogwai have also given fans a reason to cheer by bringing back producer Andy Miller who hasn't worked with the band since their 1997 debut Young Team which I still find to be their best work to date. Still, The Hawk Is Howling has much to recommend it.
As previously mentioned, vocals are thrown out with the bathwater on this album and The Hawk Is Howling is much better for it. When you have epic, almost Metal at times guitar grinders like first single "Batcat" or majestic, sweeping guitar and keyboard workouts like "The Sun Smells Too Loud" I mean really, do you need them? Lyrics just clutter things up and get in the way of something that's already picture perfect to begin with if you just open your ears and see. If you like instrumental music that can really rock your socks off, or you just like music that you can zone out to for zen-like transcendence you won't find much better this year than Mogwai's latest and near-greatest.
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