Mogwai score first No 1 album after 25 years: 'It's totally surreal'

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
·3 min read

Scottish post-rock band Mogwai have scored their first No 1 album, 25 years after the release of their first single.

As the Love Continues is the band’s 10th studio album of atmospheric guitar-centred music. Frontman Stuart Braithwaite, who also runs the tiny independent Rock Action label that releases their albums, told the Guardian it was “totally surreal, completely unexpected. At no one point ever has anyone even working with us said we’re going to have a No 1 album – it’s not the kind of thing that enters into our orbit.

“We’re super-proud of what we were doing, but we’ve been making music for over 25 years and we were happy staying where we are. We had no expansion plans.”

He said the escapist nature of his band’s music has resonated with audiences “in pretty testing times”, and thanked BBC Radio 6 Music for its support. He also credited online enthusiasm at them topping the midweek charts for their eventual No 1 position: “I saw a lot of people saying that having social media be full of something positive was such a nice change, because there’s so much negativity on the internet.”

Mogwai’s debut album, Mogwai Young Team, was released in 1997 and reached No 75. They cracked the Top 30 with Come on Die Young two years later, and their career has steadily built ever since, along with a successful sideline in scoring film and television, including drama series Les Revenants and ZeroZeroZero and documentary films Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and Atomic. Their previous two studio albums, Rave Tapes (2014) and Every Country’s Sun (2017), reached the UK Top 10.

At No 2 is another longstanding British cult hero, the grime MC Ghetts, who despite a robust marketing push – including driving a tank through central London this week – couldn’t take his critically acclaimed album Conflict of Interest to the top in its debut week.

Because Official Charts Company prizes the value of physical record sales over streams when making its rankings, sales of vinyl and CDs were key in securing Mogwai their No 1.

As the Love Continues was the week’s bestselling vinyl record, and the bestselling album in independent record shops. Braithwaite said the band ensured their stock was in the UK before Christmas to avoid any snarl-ups post-Brexit, and created an exclusive orange vinyl edition sold through Glasgow record shop Monorail. “I presumed I could grab one, but we’ve sold every single record,” he said, and lamented that there were more copies of the regular vinyl version still stuck in the Netherlands: “In the old days, someone could have gone over in a van and picked them up, and we probably could have sold more records.”

Related: Mogwai: As the Love Continues review – extremely loud and incredibly close

Brexit and coronavirus has made that impossible. Braithwaite is looking forward to touring again after the pandemic, but acknowledged the difficulties facing British artists wanting to tour Europe post-Brexit. “It’s going to be a nightmare, having to declare every piece of equipment you’ve got as you go from country to country,” he said. “And there’s going to be the visa costs, which for us will be more of a hassle than anything else, but to some bands it’ll probably stop them being able to tour. As it stands, the music industry has been completely hung out to dry; as far as the music industry’s concerned, it’s a no-deal Brexit.”

At the top of this week’s singles chart, Olivia Rodrigo extends her reign to seven weeks with her song Drivers License. It is now the longest run at the top since Tones and I’s Dance Monkey, which spent 11 weeks at No 1 in late 2019.