TO CELEBRATE the past 20 years we decided to ask Stuart for his favourite two Mogwai Albums, as well as picking one ourselves that we felt couldn’t be ignored.

Stuart’s #1 Pick – Happy Songs For Happy People (2003)

On this fourth full LP, Mogwai arguably mastered the aesthetic that they were reaching for their entire career. Their preceding release Rock Action more or less introduced electronics to their sound, but the ironically titled Happy Songs was where the band really used them tastefully.

Whether it be the foreboding Hunted by a Freak to the soaring Ratts of the Capital, every song is rich and packed with emotion. Whereas Young Team’s high points tend to be bookends, representing a great climax or sweeping musical idea, the tracks here are more frequently startling.

Stuart’s #2 Pick – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011)

One interesting characteristic of Mogwai’s is how well they convey bleak Scottish attitudes while barely using vocals at all. If their various allusions to Glasgow gangs seem too vague, track titles such as George Square Thatcher Death Party are a tad more obvious.

If you haven’t got the pattern yet, that means that you’d expect an album called Hardcore Never Die, But You Will to be an ambient slog-fest rather than a stirring punk statement. It’s neither – if anything, it’s their most accessible release of all.

That’s not to say that Mogwai suddenly embraced a commercial pop sound. If anything, the songs here are more layered with counter-melodies and additional instrumentation. Yes, they dispense with the noise and drawn out musical phrases, but this is no less progressive in its outlook.

Our Pick – Mogwai Young Team (1997)

Though it’s often hailed as being the band’s greatest achievement, Mogwai’s debut release wouldn’t be everyone’s starting point. Young Team is cold and grey, relentlessly abiding by a slow-burning, crescendo-based structure throughout its 64-minute runtime.

For many fans, however, that’s exactly what makes this so appealing. Though the band have frequently derided the Post Rock label, Young Team was arguably the spark that kindled a whole scene of instrumental minimalists.

It wasn’t just the quiet-loud dynamic that gave the album an air of distinction. Along with Radiohead’s OK Computer, which was released only a few months before, Mogwai’s debut showcased a level of artistry to British music missing during the height of Britpop.

This record exhibits the value of restraint, showing why it’s not always best to let all your ideas out in one go.