Happy Songs for Happy People

Sleepwalking Scots return with an album of dreamy excursions to an ambiguously formed shadow land. The challenge that Mogwai faces is finding the drama without relying on the obvious. The group’s primarily instrumental sound tracking does justice by frequently avoiding the always reliable but occasionally trite quiet-to-loud guitar bombast of its earlier works. The few songs that use vocals bury them in vocal effects, using them as a texture and not a roadmap. Songs such as “Hunted by a Freak” and “Kids Will Be Skeletons” are perfect examples of Mogwai’s knack for constructing an unsettling mood, yet building to a melancholic resignation in need of further release. Mogwai’s songs are not too unlike motion pictures without endings. They demand your time and imagination. Whether you have that to invest will likely decide your opinion of the album.