Back in the early days of Mogwai's career, an album titled Mr. Beast would have matched the band's Category 5 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 their 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 presaged the end of the world, whereas Beast soundtracks 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 almost-baroque "Team Handed" sighs with resignation and more desolate ivory-tickling. Even the album's moments of pummeling noise (like the near-pop song "Travel Is Dangerous") attack like a precise smart bomb homing in on its target. And that's the beauty of the near-flawless Beast: Its turmoil and sadness intertwine in such a meticulous, human way, the reactions it provokes are that much more intense, whether it's silent tears or a poignant sense of peace.
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