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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Annie Zaleski
Contact: Annie Zaleski