Mogwai: Kin Soundtrack (Rock Action)

The OST to the forthcoming sci-fi film is a disappointment from the post-rock veterans

Released Aug 31st, 2018 via Rock Action / By Erick Mertz
Mogwai: Kin Soundtrack (Rock Action) Only last year, Scottish post-rockers Mogwai released Every Country’s Sun a studio collection of originals that was met with some high acclaim. Their latest release, the soundtrack to the upcoming science-fiction movie, KIN feels a long way from last year’s muscular album. Soundtracks are, by nature, difficult to stack up against more genuine, original material, but a band with Mogwai’s pedigree brings a bit of anticipation.

The album opens with Eli’s Theme a slow and haunted piano number that is spine tingling and urgent. In a similar fashion, the follow track, Scrap tempts an air of minimalism while gently breathing a ghostly breath into the machine. Taken as a tandem, these tracks feel typical for Mogwai, highly atmospheric, isolating instruments in a whirl that alternates between cosmic and, in most other cases, post-industrial.

Among the album’s best track, Donuts takes a stark jag off of the minimalistic feel, featuring a more thunderous build and satisfying crescendo. As always, Mogwai proves they are absolutely capable of bringing the house down on the end track, We’re Not Done (End Title) which is at once gorgeous and awe-inspiring. It is the kind of fist-pumping stuff as the dream of summer rock festivals (or end credit sequences in movies) are made of. This track would fit on a two-disc Mogwai greatest hits record, but in the context of this collection, it feels like the cash in track single.

Overall, the Kin Soundtrack is a serious swing and miss for me. This isn’t even a relevant album in the Mogwai catalogue, although I wonder whether that was ever the intent. Among the most distinguishing elements featured by the band, their wry sense of humor and crackling songwriting contrasts, are just flat out absent on this record. Take their ability to write a smashing opener, Auto Rock on Mr. Beast or develop a myriad of variations on a theme, as in their series of Helicon tracks. Heck, even what is supposed to be a work of simple beauty on this record shrivels up, at least in comparison to the whirling expanses on Young Team or the dance infused numbers of Rave Tapes. The band’s ability to contrast beauty with relevant aesthetics isn’t here.

I’m in the denial stage about this record. Most Mogwai fans, outside the most ardent, will likely fall into that category. I badly want to point to bland source material, particularly the movie KIN and hope the next record proves this an aberration. 3/10