As the Love Continues

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Arriving a quarter-century after the release ofMogwai's debut single,As the Love Continuesis an album that, from its title to the warmth and immediacy of its songs, wears its heart on its sleeve. Usually, the venerable Scottish band play a cat-and-mouse game with tension and release in their music; while this restraint often makes the payoffs all the more rewarding, it's a true pleasure to hear them fill these songs with so much melody and energy. Sometimes, it feels like they're spoiling their listeners with just how accessible the album is. The opening track, "To the Bin, My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth," wastes no time shifting from its graceful piano and guitar beginnings into crescendoes that are so triumphant and satisfying that most bands would save them for last. On each track that follows,Mogwaireinvent the sounds they've pioneered over the years. When they return to the electronics that dominatedRave Tapes, it's not with that album's austerity. Instead, "Fuck Off Money"'s synth meditations reach cosmic proportions, and "Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever" piles an album's worth of melodies and moods into just under five minutes. And whileMogwaiare no strangers to combining rock and synths, they've rarely sounded as vivid as they do on "Supposedly, We Were Nightmares"' mix of fuzzed-out and neon-bright tones. Here and onAs the Love Continue's other rocking moments, there's a sense of fun that feels new. "Ceiling Granny" is a pedal-stomping good time full of tumbling riffs that hark back to the mid-'90s heyday ofSmashing PumpkinsandDinosaur Jr.; the epic "Drive the Nail" is a prime example of the band's famously deadpan humor in both its title and execution; and "Ritchie Sacramento" is a rare foray into indie rock with vocals that hits the heights ofMusic Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1.'s "Teenage Exorcists."Mogwaidon't skimp onAs the Love Continues' beauty, either. "Midnight Flit," a collaboration withAtticus Rossthat weds frisson-inducing strings with ecstatic guitars, just might be their most romantic track ever. The handful of more typically reserved songs on the album work well as breathers between its outpourings. Built around one patiently unfolding motif, "Dry Fantasy" is classicMogwai, as is "Pat Stains," a circular, chiming,Colin Stetson-assisted track that sounds like it could've appeared onYoung Team. It may have takenMogwai25 years to open up like this, but it was well worth the wait:As the Love Continuesis another peak in their long and influential career.