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If there ever was a band from these fair isles to counter the excess and exuberance of mainstream pop, then Mogwai was and still is that band. While in the nineties Albarn and the Gallaghers were fighting for the favour of teenage girls, boys and parents alike, the Glaswegian band stopped and took stock of the world around them, its injustices and chiselled themselves a firm anti-establishment ethos through the medium of post-rock. Today, as the mainstream focuses on how far it can push the blurred lines of sexual appropriateness, Mogwai are still here, offering a more sophisticated outlet on popular culture through the soundtrack for The Returned and new album Rave Tapes. Mogwai's music is punk not in its ferocity but in its ethos and as a result the band has remained relevant and certainly prolific. Now on their 8th studio album, it's easier than ever to see how far these Scots have progressed both sonically and in popularity.

1999's Come On Die Young has been considered by many to be the band's finest moment, or at least as a crucial waypoint in finding their sound. As only their sophomore album, it still has that raw passion that makes young bands so exciting in their early years, and while the production and recording is limited compared to their recent outputs it still sounds just as expansive and foreboding as has come to be characteristic of Mogwai's music. Come On Die Young is far more restrained that its predecessor Young Team, remaining far more introspective and critical of the world around it despite the record's often lack of lyrics. Now, fifteen years on, it is reissued as a deluxe edition with a whole extra album of alternate versions and tracks.

One of record's most notable features is the use of samples to introduce many of the songs. Opener 'Punk Rock:' is a sample in itself - an interview about the ethos of punk rock on a contemporary American chat show, it sets out the band's agenda and outlines that you don't have to be aggressive to be punk. 'Helps Both Ways' is built around the foundation of an American football game commentary and provides a more ambient counterpart on the enthusiasm of the commentator. Most of all, though, these samples give 'Come On...' a distinct eye for nostalgia. Fuzzily recorded and often from decades earlier, they act as a lynchpin for Mogwai's critical view on the world both past and present.

Other than the samples, it's the pace of the album that still manages to intrigue. Almost every track trundles along at a stoned pace, but introspective guitar flourishes indicate that Mogwai aren't a band out of their heads. Each song is largely driven by slow kick-snares and symbols, with the likes of 'Ex-Cowboy' morphing into a cacophonic maelstrom of percussion and squalling guitar, reminding you that this is a band who know how to let it all out when they want to. The closest thing to a classic pop song is the now legendary 'Cody'. All soft, wistful lyrics and simple guitar chords, it's Mogwai at their most emotional and heartfelt. It is leant all the more power as actual words on the band's records are relatively uncommon, meaning that the moments that do are even more emphatic than the instrumentals and, in this case, have the possibility to tear-jerk.

As is always the danger with reissues that rely on alternate versions and rarities as their USP, many of the session tracks of the bonus LP are frequently of little variation in performance to those on the standard record. Mogwai are one of those bands who often play sessions as they do on record, which is arguably a commendable attribute. However, there are some standout exceptions. The Chem 19 demo version of 'Christmas Steps' sounds even more ferocious than its album version counterpart, while somehow the Cava Sessions take on 'Cody' tugs on the heartstrings just a little bit more. Also notable are the rarities 'Nick Drake', 'Hugh Dallas' and the 3 track Travels In Constants EP, which offer a welcome change in sound when listening to both the standard LP followed by the bonus equivalent back-to-back. Highlight, however, is the original version of the aforementioned American football-sampling 'Helps Both Ways'. This is largely due to a completely different commentary than the album version, which, as the backbone to the track, gives it a new lease of life. It rounds off a reissue that makes Come On Die Young sound as relevant today as it did a decade and a half ago.

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