Come On Die Young is somewhat different from the rest of Mogwai's work because of its reserved tone. The album's second track "CODY" is much more like a traditional pop song than most of the band's repertoire. Still slow and sinuous, it features an uncharacteristically distinct melody, slide guitar and relatively prominent vocals. Much of Come On Die Young consists of slow, quiet, drum-driven tracks containing tense, feedback-laden crescendos and occasionally ambient textures. Near the end of the album, the bombastic "Christmas Steps" breaks away from this quiet tension and displays a return to Mogwai's more well-known distortion-heavy dynamics. The album's title derives from a Glasgow gang of the same name.
Come On Die Young received a somewhat muted reception when compared to Mogwai Young Team. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing for AllMusic, wrote that "perhaps Come On Die Young wouldn't have seemed as disappointing if it hadn't arrived on the wave of hype and expectation, but the truth is, it pales in comparison to their own work."