Mogwai - Young Team (Reissue)
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Young Team (Reissue)

I find it interesting and sometimes a bit odd how fast releases are deemed "classics" and given reissue treatment these days. Young Team arrived roughly a decade ago now, and the forward-looking release pushed open the post rock, quiet/loud gates even more, allowing everyone and their cousin and roommate to run through, gracing the world with some amazing music along with stacks of absolute flotsam. That's not a criticism of Mogwai, as the Glaswegians have always been remarkably consistent, and have done their best to move away from the sort of structure that they helped introduce and has largely become cliche.

And so, after a decade the songs on Young Team hold up fairly well, but it may be at least partially due to a personal sense of nostalgia and real surprise from when I first heard the release. "Like Herod" still tip-toes through almost twelve minutes of slow builds and insanely scorching blowouts, and "Tracy" is still beautiful and delicate with the quiet field recording adding a layer of intrigue and sadness. "Summer (Priority Version)" still doesn't sound quite as good as the version that appeared on Ten Rapid, and "With Portfolio" will still make your co-workers come running into your office wondering what's wrong when you accidentally leave it playing while going off into another room (true story). Despite thousands of other songs coming down the pike between then and now that progress with the same sort of feel (and fail), I still get a good tingle when listening to the album-closer of "Mogwai Fear Satan," as it roils away and unleashes all kinds of fury over the course of sixteen minutes.

The added value on this reissue is not only a slight remaster of the original audio (which cleans things up a bit, but nothing too noticeable), but a second CD that includes b-sides from the era along with some live versions. Of the b-sides, only "Honey" (which features some mumbled vocals) is a real standout, and the live material only fares a bit better. Overdriven into tape-bleeding levels during the loud parts, the live tracks attempt to harness the huge squall that the group spits out on stage, but the song that works the best is "R U Still In 2 It," which stumbles along with quiet vocals from Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap and some more delicate instrumentation that doesn't get melted by distortion.

In the end, this reissue of Young Team seems a bit of an early look back at an album that is certainly great (and holds up quite well), but unfortunately doesn't offer a great deal of incentive for listeners (unless they're absolutely hardcore Mogwai fans who haven't yet heard the bonus tracks and have always felt like the release could have used some cleaning-up in terms of sound).

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2008-05-22 19:43:38