This review comes from a Mogwai neophyte. I have friends who have been urging me to buy a Mogwai album for years now, but for some reason I kept putting it off! Anyway, I must admit that it's hard to choose one Mogwai album to begin from, because for starters most people in the record shops have heard of the band, but not many actually listen to them.
Also, every single album seems to get mixed reviews; no one album seems to be universally hailed as a Mogwai "classic". I suppose that's common for almost any album or band, but with Mogwai it was a bit of a stumbling block for me. So I dove in and bought this one...
...and I did the right thing! This album is AWESOME. I expect I'll be listening to it for some time. I noticed that some of the reviews on this site indicate that the live takes of these songs are weaker than the studio counterparts, and if that's the case then WOW... I can't wait to get their studio albums!
I must say that of the "post-rock" bands Mogwai was the most satisfying to me upon first listen. Perhaps because they're the most guitar-oriented of that group of bands, but this isn't so much a review of the band as it is of this album. "Government Commissions" is alernately relaxing and grating, immediately accessible (to me) and yet densely layered, frightening yet pastoral.
I understand that the sequence of tracks is non-chronological, and considering that the album spans 6 or 7 years' worth of sessions, this band has been remarkably consistent. I don't really have a favourite track, because they all sound great; I was engaged through the entire hour-plus duration of the album!
So... bottom line: If you're new to Mogwai this is a fantastic one to start with. Anyone have any suggestions as to the best studio album to get?