Back in the early days of Mogwai's career, an album titled Mr. Beast would have matched the band's category-five noise hurricanes perfectly. But as the Scotsmen refined their sound over the next decade, moments of levity and clarity airy synths, strings, eerie silences made the band's emotional maelstroms more compelling. In fact Mr. Beast feels like a sequel to 2003's sublime Happy Music for Happy People: The latter's peaks and valleys presage the end of the world, whereas Beast chronicles the lonely fallout. A repeating piano melody coils itself around ominous guitars that slowly build from silence to beehive-angry quivers on "Auto Rock"; "Acid Food" asks "What happened after the storm?" atop a Vicodin-induced twang haze; and the nearly Baroque "Team Handed" sighs with resignation and more desolate ivory-tickling. Even the album's moments of pummeling noise (such as the poplike "Travel Is Dangerous") attack like a precise smart bomb honing in on its target. And that's the beauty of the almost flawless Beast: Its turmoil and sadness intertwine in such a meticulous, human way that the reactions it provokes are intense whether it's silent tears or a poignant sense of peace.
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