Archive for May 28th, 2007


Three Modest Mouse Reviews

May 28, 2007

Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West

Arguably their most popular album, The Lonesome Crowded West is one of Modest Mouse’s singular masterpieces and still sticks today as a memorable statement of the 90s. To say it is perfect is not accurate, as there are some songs that simply lack in comparison to the others, but the whole of what the album says more than justifies it. Beyond making an album full of memorable hooks and rocking jams, The Lonesome Crowded West speaks the voice of middle America, and all of it too. The trashy, the suburbanites, the city slickers, the smart, the dumb, the lovers and everything in between. Sometimes the album rocks out really hard, especially with Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine and Cowboy Dan, but the music serves itself best when it plays specific roles. Picture taking a wrong exit on the highway and ending up in bumblefuck Mississippi. Yeah, your mind might be reeling through Jesus Christ Was an Only Child. Then try picturing yourself in High School, chilling out on a hot evening with some friends on your back porch while the sun sets over the dirty highway and the streetlights just turn on. This is the cool urban Heart Cooks Brain. I think people could make a case for many songs like Doin’ the Cockroach and Trucker’s Atlas that I’m not so hot on, but in any case most everything here is good. The clear high point is Trailer Trash, an anthem for the ages, and the final three songs that turn everything else about the album inside out and resolve everything absolutely perfectly. A classic, and just as good as the record that would proceed it.

Modest Mouse – The Moon And Antarctica

No one will pretend that The Moon And Antarctica isn’t a dreary, exhausting listen. While The Lonesome Crowded West flowed, had some pop gold, and was an all around fun album, The Moon And Antarctica delivered more quality music at a completely different angle. This album is simultaneously introspective and existential (whatever the hell those mean), and demands close attention and an open mind. Like The Lonesome Crowded West, this album is poetic and has many underlying themes and questions asked, but instead of being deceptive about them and using irony to get them across, some of them are pushed to the front while others are mysteriously obscured. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the album is the sheer execution and the ride that it takes the listener on. The first four songs are happy, relaxing, folky rockers, the first two of which are simply perfect and some of the best the band has ever written. And then the fifth song, Tiny Cities Made of Ashes, drives the listener into unexpected curious panic, and then plunges them into four melancholy masterpieces. A personal favorite song is the next one after the long epic The Stars Are Projectors. Never has a song been as subtley destructive as Wild Packs of Family Dogs, let alone dreamed of doing it in less than two minutes. The finally, the mood bounces back and weaves back and forth for the last five songs, ending the album on a completely inspiring note. All this is done while delivering the same catchy, wonderful melodies Modest Mouse is good at, musing with great lyrics, and simultaneously introducing a new expansive sound. The biggest problem is lack of accessibility, but in that way the album ends up being more fun and inspiring upon every listen. For catchy, upbeat tunes one will want to look back an album, but this is just as essential. This remastered reissue is rounded off perfectly by four BBC session takes (Custom Concern is just as good as many songs on the album) and more fitting cover art, making the perfect asset to any casual or high profile fan’s library.

Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Truly an album that gets more shit than it deserves. Although Good News may not be quite as consistent as Modest Mouse’s other work, it is still a darn good album and a great addition to the bands catalogue. The indie nerds will complain that this was the sellout point of the band, and really that might be true, but the sales of the album are irrelevant in the face of the fact that this is simply quality music. So despite the fact that Float On got significant radio play, it is still one of the best tunes that the band has ever written. So my advice to listeners would be to throw everything that anyone ever told you about this album over their shoulder and listen to this album with a fresh ear, because good things will surely come of it. No one will pretend it doesn’t have less strong moments than The Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon And Antarctica, but one would be hard pressed to follow up two grand albums with something that matches them. Some of the albums better moments are the albums first four songs (excluding the two interludes, obviously) and the last three, and while everything sandwiched in between isn’t quite as good, the ends justify the means. It builds it’s personality only marginally, but Good News For People Who Love Bad News can be a very good sunny pop album that has some of the bands absolute best songs. It’s hard to say if this is a good place to start… If you are only going to get one or two Modest Mouse albums, the two that preceded Good News are far more essential, but for people who are willing to dig in for a while, this might be a good launching point. Another good album by Modest Mouse, probably the third best.