Mogwai have been a band for what feels like a lifetime, at least almost all of my lifetime, and they've released albums, EPs and soundtracks consistently throughout. Central Belters is here as a celebration of that 20 years together. A greatest hits - if you will. Greatest Hits collections are touted as 'collectors only' items in this day and age and largely this won't be played by anyone who doesn't already own the majority of its tracklist, but that's missing the point. Mogwai have been steady in their career, but over 20 years they're sure to have gained some fans and lost some by the wayside and this career spanning collection of what they deem their greatest tracks serves as a basecamp to catch up before you begin climbing the behemoth before you.
Central Belters is largely chronological in nature it's three hour plus running time spans from the slow moody vocals of 'CODY' to the taut synths of 2014's Rave Tapes which gave the band their first top 10 hit. The band that got stuck with the quiet/LOUD/quiet description have evolved over the course of their eight studio albums. Not suddenly and not drastically, but from an elemental level. They're an instrumental band and yet many of these tracks feature vocals. They're an insidiously heavy noise rock band and yet many of these tracks are deathly slow. They've got 20 minute songs and yet there's songs here that are under three minutes. You think you know Mogwai and yet you don't; Central Belters is a testament to the versatility and depth of this beast.
The classic raging guitar scuzz that builds and falls through the 16 minutes of 'Mogwai Fear Satan' closes up CD1 and seeps into the now iconic opening notes of 'Auto Rock' from 2006's Mr Beast. CD2 is then given over to the arguably more trite period. This in itself spans eight years and from 'Travel is Dangerous' to the snappy Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will's 'Mexican Grand Prix' there's a lot of growing room. It's easy to track their progression to the current day while listening to this record. There's no real hits on Central Belters because Mogwai don't have any as such, but there's everything that makes them into the earth shattering, tear inducing, ear splitting song writers that they are.
As is standard with a box set of this nature the third CD is chock full of B-sides and rarities. Except, well, it's not. The majority of the ten tracks here are easily accessible on EPs or soundtracks. The only real 'rarity' is in the form of the sorrowful 'D to E' from 2001's US Tour EP. While tracks from their Zidane soundtrack and 1999 EP are not unwelcome it would have been more worthwhile for them to throw in some proper surprises. Tying it all up is the 20 minute Jewish prayer based 'My Father My King' which is epic in every sense of the word.
At over 3 hours you probably won't listen to Central Belters in one go, or at least most won't, and while it doesn't matter it's a shame. In one smooth listen to songs you've heard either hundreds of times or for the first you find out more about this band than you ever could an album at a time. This is their career highlights chosen by them. It's serene, it's chaotic; it's Mogwai.
Official Site -