If you ask a person to name a song that means something to the, 9 times out of 10 they will name a song where they have an affinity with the lyrics. If you are trying to capture a mood or feeling, having the words of someone else can make it much easier to sum up your own feelings. It also helps a person believe that other people are experiencing the same emotions that they are going through, which also makes it easier. Pop songs with great lyrics are the most common way for music lovers to identify with an artist but what about instrumental music.
Having no words in a song may make it a bit more difficult for people to engage with but some of the most atmospheric and engaging bands in recent years have been Mogwai and Sigur Ros. Both of these acts have a massive worldwide fan base and perhaps this is explained by their lack of lyrics. English is a common language around the world but there can still be a barrier for people to get into traditionally British style bands. Acts like Mogwai and Sigur Ros are able to transcend the language barrier and bring emotionally charged music to everyone.
The term cinematic is often used in describing bands with a big sound but these two acts can lay claim to that term with ease. Although they have had a large popularity in Britain for many years, the biggest factor in Sigur Ros’ current popularity owes a lot to their music featuring on a major TV show. ‘Planet Earth’ used the inspiring ‘Hoppipolla’ to soundtrack many of the awesome scenes and trailers, bringing the music of Sigur Ros to a whole new audience.
Similarly, Mogwai have had their songs featured on various soundtracks and the band composed the entire soundtrack to the film ‘Zidane’. The Mogwai live show features more tempo and key changes than most standard rock shows and the band certainly takes the audience on a journey with them. Lurching between quiet and loud can be a shock for people who are not aware of the band’s output but it certainly makes for an exciting show.
You can put your own feel on the track<
The song titles will sometimes hint at what the band were thinking when they were writing the track but more often that not with Mogwai, the title is ambiguous and probably revolves around a joke! However, this allows the listener to put their own slant onto the music, which means the songs can mean something to people. If the band allow you to make up your own mind on a track, then it is unlikely that anyone else will have the same feelings about the song.
Anyone that thinks that you cannot capture real emotion or mood changes without using lyrics should listen to the work of these two bands. An argument can be made about Sigur Ros singing in Icelandic, or even their own hybrid language they claim to have developed but the most telling thing from the vocals come from the sounds as opposed to the lyrics. Using vocals as another instrument to layer onto the overall sound provides a further benefit to the listener and adds to the feel of the music. Music should always be about what the listener takes from it but with this style of music, there is far more freedom to have your own opinion.