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43. Mogwai – Secret Pint

11/11/2009

43

All elegiac piano and muffled drum, Secret Pint’s stately, mournful poise is straight from the same school as WH Auden’s Stop All The Clocks or Edward Hopper’s lighthouse paintings. It finds a sort of beauty in the hopelessly sad; it makes a virtue of its emptiness; it feels stoic among utter despair. Mogwai have good form in generating senses of grace and peace through spectral drones and the simplest of arrangements. However, they have equal previous in destroying said peace with cacophonous walls of noise. Here, however, the blast is muzzled, allowing Dave Fridman’s distant, muted cello to haunt the track. Secret Pint’s air is heavy with despondency and cynicism (not least in the final verse’s “Tried my best/failed the test/did my worst/came in first”), but its plaintive calm wins through – like Low’s Laser Beam, this is a beautiful exercise in restraint.

(While the original version of Secret Pint appeared on Mogwai’s third LP Rock Action in 2001, the version above is from their compilation of Peel Sessions, Government Commissions, for no other reason that I think it’s a better interpretation)

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