Mogwai The Hawk Is Howling

At this point, you know what you’re getting into with a Mogwai record. There’s the deafening post-rock throwdowns, the cosmic breathers, a bunch of tuneful brooding and, of course, gloom. Yeah, it’s become a bit predictable but it’s also been consistent. The dreary Scots have yet to deliver an all-out dud in their 13 years and The Hawk Is Howling is no exception. Dropping the tighter, more rigid structures of Mr. Beast, Mogwai have returned to loose, sprawling configurations for album number six, a move that’s more than welcome. Like with ’Gwai of old, the music now breathes a bit more, allowing the songs to ebb, flow and stretch across the album. There’s still a bit of tension — like on the screaming "Batcat” and "The Precipice” — but Mogwai are now out to lull you into submission rather than knock you on your arse. At one point, in fact, they even get downright cheery with the Kraut-flavoured "The Sun Smells Too Loud,” the group’s most un-Mogwai-like track yet and ironically, the album’s highlight. The Hawk Is Howling is not the band’s finest album but it’s a step back in the right direction. (Matador)