Mogwai is a giant name in the post-rock genre, and rightfully so. They’ve been putting out great music since ’97 and show no signs of stopping any time soon. Earth Division displays a quieter side to Mogwai, leaving the pounding drums and fuzz-soaked guitars (though not entirely) out, making for a much different listening experience.
Though the sound isn’t necessarily what one would expect from a Mogwai album the general feeling is still there, as Earth Division still manages to wrap you up in the swelling sounds it creates.
Album opener “Get to France” lays the framework for the rest of the disc and establishes that pianos and strings will be at the forefront. About the next track, “Hound of Winter,” Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite said, “I’d describe this as a power-free power ballad.” Though those may not be the words I would use to describe it, it does successfully convey the fact that this is one of the most unusual songs on the record. “Hound” showcases something very rare for Mogwai, clean and unaffected vocals. Vocals in and of themselves are hard to find in their catalog and when they are stumbled across they’ve usually been spun through as many Vocoders that were available. The song is definitely a weird one but works remarkably well when grouped with the rest of the album.
“Drunk and Crazy” however, is a vintage Mogwai tune. Synthesized drums, faint strings and piano, and “piles of guitar noise” make for something exponentially more familiar than the track that preceded this one.
The album closes on a more somber note with “Does This Always Happen?” (The title taken from a friend’s experience at a swanky club in Glasgow, Scotland.). The main guitar line repeats throughout the song as numerous strings swell and recede. Adding to all this is minimal piano, which makes for just enough contrast to keep the listener intrigued.
Earth Division is short, coming in at under 20 minutes but it is definitely worthy of that time. I’d venture to say that it might even be worth more than that!