MOGWAI – CODY (from the album Come On Die Young)
Here’s my philistine’s opinion: putting vocals on post-rock tracks, vocals which might be singing real words in some order which might actually mean something, which might even – and I’ll admit this is a real stretch for the genre – be a stab at emotional content, well, that’s a Good Idea. It both broadens and sharpens the music’s range: post-rock (meaning here post-Slint, post-Tortoise, post-Sonic Youth) is really good at broadstroke serenity and sinisterosity and crushing sadness, and at a stretch it can do aggro pretty well too, but it has a tough time doing love or directed anger. And besides lyrics which aren’t awful can act as highlights on the song, turning something too wide to get a grip on into something heartstoppingly exact. (Come to think of it, this is partly why Sonic Youth are so much better than the other two bands mentioned).

So here are Mogwai, maybe in a car some grey evening driving somewhere, maybe not. There’s a story somewhere in the song – you could try and work it out, but you don’t need to: there’s only one story which uses so many “I”s and “You”s and which has to be told this slow, and you’ve probably lived it. “I’ve tried a hundred times to see the roadsigns as day-glo” – the impossibility of trying to make the everyday transcendent, even though you know you should, because some things pull you down too far to make the effort. The best you can do is sit with your knees up against your chest, wait for matters to improve, and rock back and forth to a song like this: still an easy-to-solve equation of influences, but for once in a career good enough to make you forget the answer.