Billy Mahonie What Becomes Before

When Billy Mahonie's debut album, The Big Dig, was released in 1999, the band was quickly grouped together with Mogwai because of the superficial similarities between the bands. Both were putting out instrumentals that had a tendency to start off quietly, build up to something noisy and then get quiet again. Still, there was room in the world for both bands because each one had their own angle, with Billy Mahonie's being the less successful. Their second album, What Becomes Before, however, is a different beast altogether. The band has moved even further away from Mogwai and come up with a remarkably eclectic sounding record. Instead of simply relying on their old quiet-loud-quiet tricks, they've crafted all manner of tunes that range from monstrous guitar workouts ("Nacho Steals From Work") to quiet acoustic strums ("False Calm"). What Becomes Before is a much less one-dimensional album than its predecessor; it has a depth and intricacy that nobody would have expected from the band a couple of years ago. But despite that, the variety does work against Billy Mahonie, because the album lacks cohesion and it feels like it was cobbled together rather than orchestrated as part of a master plan. Still, there are some very good moments and the longer tracks in particular stand out as being worth your attention. (Southern)