Modest Mouse's return to form is available now.
Or: Good News for People Who Hated We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Remember Modest Mouse? They made unbelievably awesome and unique music for the latter half the nineties before finally grabbing the attention they deserved with The Moon and Antarctica in 2000, and then more attention than they deserved with Good News for People Who Love Bad News in 2004. Both were great albums. Even though those releases were more accessible than the early stuff, they still managed to sound alternately evil, beautiful, chaotic and catchy…like Modest Mouse should.
Then something happened. Maybe it was the pressure to follow up Good News (a kind of commercial sophomore slump) or perhaps it was just Johnny Marr’s songwriting contributions (Johnny Marr and the Healers anyone?), but one way or another, in 2007 Modest Mouse turned in the worst album of their career. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank may have gone to number one, but hey, so did Transformers 2. Fears that Isaac Brock and co. had permanently blown off course were not unfounded, but fear not gentle reader, because they’ve steered clear.
Modest Mouse’s latest offering is an eight track EP of their recent singles and B-sides, mostly new recordings of tunes left (surprisingly) off the last two albums. It kicks off with Satellite skin, which is a little on the soft side, but the lyrics have serious bite and damned if it’s not catchy. It only gets better from there. Gone are the prominent dance-rock bar chords and drumming of We Were Dead. No, this is the eclectic and unpredictable Modest Mouse of old, from the sweet banjo-infused melody of Autumn Beds to the noisy lonesome-crowded jamming of The Whale Song to the whimsical lyrical rap of Guilty Cocker Spaniels to however the hell you describe the five and a half minute, horn-infused epic, King Rat.
To anyone who thinks that Modest Mouse has had its day, go ahead and give Isaac Brock another shot. I mean, the guy practically invented his own way of singing and playing guitar (barking and that bendy add-on thing respectively) plus he made fantastically weird American music for such a long time before getting anything to show for it. That’s got to be worth some respect and forgiveness, and this new EP makes it easy to give him plenty of both. The songs may have been lying around for awhile, but Modest Mouse are still back to doing what they do best, and thank God for that.