April 5, 2007


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Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Sony BMG/Epic, 2007

I have to re-watch The Fly. You know, Jeff Goldblum (or Al Hedison, if you prefer the original) invents a teleporter and accidentally combines himself with a fly, with horrific consequences. I have to watch again because apparently it was a documentary and I missed the part where Mick Jagger and Bobcat Goldthwait stepped into the machine together and were fused into the stumbling, benzocaine-lipped lead singer of Modest Mouse.

Seriously, I can barely understand a fraction of Isaac Brock’s insane ramblings. Fortunately he repeats “Someday you will die somehow and something’s gonna steal your carbon” about 90 times at the end of “Parting of the Sensory,” so that line can be teased out. The concept of pitch seems foreign to him, and more often than not he’s just yelling. Super. It gets really bad when he tries to imitate Roger Waters.

Let’s assume the caterwauling is an intentional characteristic of the band’s sound. The lyrics, read from the CD booklet, are certainly interesting enough, in that William Faulkner stream-of-consciousness kind of way. The accompanying music spans a range between quirkily muddled and quirkily inspired, so subsequent listens did actually improve my perception of the album.

Can Modest Mouse fans expect more of what they’ve grown to love about this band? Sure. There’s just over an hour of tunes here, so you’ll get your money’s worth, and there’s some of the same vague storyline continuity from song to song in both words and melodic themes.

Oh, and as soon as you open the jewel case, you’re treated to this mind-numbingly deep follow-up to the album title: “We were lucky.” Gag me. C- —John “jaQ” Andrews