Mr.Beast (Limited Edition CD + DVD)

Label: Matador Records
Duration: 1:23:30
Genre: Post Rock

AllMusic Review
Possibly the most accessible yet sophisticated album Mogwai has released, Mr. Beast strips away most of the electronic embellishment of their recent work in favor of a back-to-basics sound that returns to and expands on the approach they pioneered on Young Team. Mr. Beast is also a surprisingly spontaneous-sounding album -- in the best possible sense, its freshness makes it feel like a recorded practice session and also helps give relatively delicate pieces like "Team Handed" the same amount of impact that heavy, searing tracks like the closer, "We're No Here," have. Interestingly, more of Mr. Beast tends toward the former kind of song than the latter; "Friend of the Night," "Emergency Trap," and the glorious, slow-burning album opener, "Auto-Rock," give the album an unusually refined, even elegant feel that is underscored by the prominent use of piano and lap steel in the arrangements. On songs like "Acid Food" and the magnificent "I Chose Horses" -- which features cavernously deep bass and spoken word vocals by Tetsuya Fukagawa from the Japanese hardcore band Envy -- Mr. Beast feels downright pastoral. However, Mogwai doesn't give up their heavy side entirely, as the aforementioned "We're No Here" and "Glasgow Mega-Snake" show; any song that has either "mega" or "snake" in the title should rock, and this one does, kicking off with a claustrophobic snarl of guitars that makes this one of the most intense pieces Mogwai has ever recorded. Immediate without sounding dumbed-down, Mr. Beast shows the band at the peak of its powers. [Mr. Beast was also released with a bonus DVD that features a 40-minute documentary on the making of the album.]

Sputnik Music Review
Though Mogwai's reputation will probably always be that of the loud blasts of noise and enormous dynamics that dominated their earlier records, it's clear that with Happy Songs For Happy People and now Mr Beast, Mogwai have become so much more. It would seem that after their sophomore release of Come On Die Young, Mogwai gradually started discovering melody and more beautiful ideas. By the time Mogwai released Happy Songs For Happy People, their songs were extremely varied and eclectic. Not only this, but Happy Songs For Happy People was arguably Mogwai's best record since Young Team. In many people's eyes, it was their best record yet.

For fans of the more recent Mogwai records, Mr Beast may well be the best Mogwai record yet. Although they had been hinting at it for a while, on Mr Beast completely does away with the epics that Mogwai have been praised for. There are no songs on the record that hit the 6 minute mark, giving each track a snappy and more accessible feel. The album's single is, interestingly enough, the second longest track on the album at 5:30. Although some of the songs sound like they could do with an extra 3 or 4 minutes (album opener "Auto Rock" being an great example), the length doesn't detract from the songs in the slightest. In fact, it makes them that much more special.

As mentioned earlier, the songs are an eclectic mix of sounds, styles, moods and feels. Like the band's last record, the majority of the tracks have a very uplifting mood. In this case, the album's strongest songs tend to be the more uplifting tracks. Like previous records, Mr Beast includes a handful of tracks with vocals. Two tracks have vocals courtesy of the band while "I Chose Horses" sees Tetsuya Fukagawa of Envy reciting a spoken word part.

Instrumentally, Mogwai are at their finest. Mr Beast is a much more piano dominated record than previous efforts and this is well to Mogwai's advantage. The electronics and programming that made a welcome appearance on Happy Songs For Happy People are in full swing on Mr Beast. While Mogwai make interesting use of electronics throughout the record, their music is never dominated by it. Overall, Mr Beast takes a much more conventional rock oriented approach to Mogwai's music. This is most prevailent on "Travel is Dangerous", which is one of the album's most conventional and beautiful songs. Despite the eclectic and melodic nature of Mr Beast, the noisy heaviness that Mogwai are known for makes many welcome appearances on this record. "Glasgow Mega-Snake" has some particularly noisy moments with explosions of feedback while album closer "We're No Here" is so heavy that it could be an Isis or Pelican song.

In comparison to Mogwai's earlier records, Mr Beast is a logical progression and a welcome addition to their catalogue. For fans of Rock Action and Happy Songs For Happy People, this record is everything that anyone could hope for. For those new to Mogwai, this is as good a time and place to start as any. For anyone and everyone else, Mr Beast just might be the best album Mogwai has made yet.

Amazon.UK Description
The fifth album from Mogwai should satisfy those fans who’ve feared their heroes might be losing their sharp-taloned gremlin edge. "Mr Beast", you see, is a significant jerk of the volume knob--a record that finds these Scots avant-rockers sporadically reaching again for the same skull-crushing levels of sound that lent earlier albums like 1997’s "Young Team" such noise-freak notoriety.
The lessons in songcraft learnt on more recent works like "Happy Songs For Happy People", however, have stuck: for every dials-in-the-red rocker like "Glasgow Mega-Snake" or "We’re No Here", there’s a more sedate moment like the Barry Burns-sung "Acid Food" or piano-accompanied "Friend Of The Night" to give the album a nice peaks-and-troughs feel. There’s a special guest too, in the shape of Tetsuya Fukagawa of Japan’s Envy, a hardcore outfit with clear similarities to Mogwai’s cacophonic sturm und drang. The surprise being, however, that the track in question, "I Chose Horses" is a soft, lilting keyboard number that’s possibly this band’s plain loveliest moment to date. --"Louis Pattison"

Amazon.CA Description
With tune titles like "Glasgow Mega-Snake," "Acid Food," and "I Chose Horses," it should be clear Mogwai hasn’t taken any easy, mellowing departures on "Mr. Beast". Sure, the album opens with the calming guitar atmospherics of "Auto Rock," but then "Glasgow Mega-Snake" comes bounding out with a crushing jog of a beat and a trademark granite slab of guitars. The Scots also indulge incrementally more beautiful and terrifying dreamscapes, especially the down-turned piano topping that hovers above a guitar storm on "Emergency Trap" and the layers of clear-toned melody that chime over a swirl of choked, feedback-drenched power on "Folk Death 95." There has long been talk of Scottish miserablism, and this colors and grinds the idea blissfully. "--Andrew Bartlett"

Auto Rock4:18
Glasgow Mega-Snake3:35
Acid Food3:40
Travel Is Dangerous4:01
Team Handed3:58
Friend Of The Night5:30
Emergency Trap3:31
Folk Death 953:34
I Chose Horses5:13
We're No Here5:38
Making of "Mr. Beast" Documentary40:32
Original Release: 2006-01-01
Composer: Mogwai
Arranged By: Mogwai
Producer: Tony Doogan, Mogwai