Kin [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Mogwai are the rare band with a body of soundtrack work that's just as vital as their own albums. With Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, Les Revenants, and Atomic, they redefined their music while emphasizing the gifts for mood-making that made them soundtrack-worthy in the first place. Mogwai reach another milestone with KIN: the band's first music for a feature film -- a sci-fi thriller about a pair of brothers who find a mysterious weapon -- delivers a streamlined version of their sound that's ready for its close-up. Sometimes, this focus feels a bit boilerplate; stark, mournful, yet violent tracks such as "Miscreants," "Guns Down," and "KIN" are as familiar as they are effective. At other times, KIN distills Mogwai's sound in the best possible ways. As it builds from an echoing piano melody to pummeling rhythms, "Flee" brings nuance, as well as plenty of tension, to the music for a chase scene. The final track, "We're Not Done," might be a little too upbeat compared to what came before, yet its chiming indie rock -- which recalls the much-loved "Teenage Exorcists" from Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1. -- is a standout. The same can be said of "Donuts," which is one of the finest examples of Mogwai's soaring beauty in the late 2010s. Even when KIN feels predictable, it still makes an impact. "Scrap" subtly nods to the film's genre with its reverberating synth arpeggios, while the somber majesty of "Eli's Theme" explains why the band was hired for this job. Where Mogwai's other scores pushed their boundaries, KIN simply restates their strengths -- which, fortunately, are as formidable as ever.

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