Living in Glasgow, there's a reverence around Mogwai that even the mention of the name has a unifying, argument-ending effect. This isn't a phenomenon solely located in the Dear Green Place, as I have gone through life and a couple of countries with many an acquaintance left slack-jawed at my confession of not prioritising a listen of any of their albums. One of my friends views his Mogwai gig-induced tinnitus simultaneously as a warning to others and as a particularly devastating badge of fandom. Recently they collaborated with Mark Cousins on his film Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, played extra loud in some cinemas, including my local. My anxiety at permanently damaging my hearing stretched to wearing earplugs for the duration, as well as treating my aforementioned tinnitus-afflicted friend to a ticket, a futile personal attempt to address the karmic balance. But, y'know what, the score ended up being my favourite part of an invigorating assault on the senses but an unsatisfying meditation on the complexities of human technological endeavour.
Maybe that spoilt me for Hardcore Will Never Die (But You Will). Listening to this album after experiencing Mogwai as a superior soundtrack that elevated and made sense of a barrage of images left me aching for an accompaniment. Each track brims with promise, implying some epic soundscape, climbing up a slight but long incline but that build snuffs out. There's an unshakeable feeling throughout that this is a good but dampened rehearsal in a parents' garage. Multiple listens do not reward much when looking for resolution. Lacking the pounding, juicy hooks of fellow Scots Remember, Remember or the awe-inspiring progressions of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Hardcore Will Never Die (But You Will) comes up short on the suggestions of its title, making you feel more like you've been caught in a lukewarm downpour rather than teetering on the uncanny brink of existence itself.
Surprising no one, my favourite track on Hardcore Will Never Die (But You Will) is Music for a Forgotten Future. Topping over 20 minutes, it was written as the soundtrack to an installation. I have no idea what that installation looked like but I can picture it or - more accurately - feel what it would have been like to be there. That is no mean feat but if an album cannot stand as a work in its own right, I can't say that it is a successful venture. But I'm first in line to see the film that this would score with an impressive subtlety.