I remember first hearing Mogwai’s Young Team after it was released in 1997 and being pummeled into a dream state. It lasted for what felt like weeks. Melody without lyrics? Crescendo and decrescendo tension builders (before it became de rigueur)? A flute line that wasn’t tacky? Eleven years on, Young Team (now premastered and with a bonus disc) is even more relentless, more beautiful, and more immediate.
Remember when the Stooges’ Raw Power got remastered and it became even louder, sharper and more in-your-face? Young Team is the demonic Glaswegian street gang rolling little brother.
Throughout its career, Mogwai has reminded us that it’s acceptable to dispense with vocals if you do it right. This remaster sounds clearer — you can hear all of the distinct elements working together. The songs are intricate yet noisy — a lethal combination. It also shows just how muddy and decompressed the original, hastily produced version really is.
The bonus disc opens with a previously unreleased track that’s not remarkable but is pretty nonetheless. It’s the third track that caught my attention, because it’s percussion-driven, which is atypical for this band. “I Can’t Remember” beats a military tattoo thundering across the Scottish Highlands and is a perfect foreshadowing of the searing live versions of “Like Herod,” “Mogwai Fear Satan” and “Katrien” to come. The songs are tempestuous. And then they take it down a notch in the middle with a sweet little cover of uncle Spaceman 3’s “Honey.” It’s a well-rounded bonus disc, to say the very least.