Something I've been regularly obsessed with for a long long time, and even more so recently, is a fantastic band by the name of Modest Mouse. I got into them from a friend of a friend way back when they had just released their third album The Moon & Antarctica. That was the very first taste I had of Modest Mouse and it was something I greatly enjoyed. I went through the rest of their discography, grabbing any of their music that I could. The sweet, yet salty tinge of their guitar work, and Issac Brock's guttural vocals took me back, and made me fall in love with their songs. So as a great honor to a fantastic band, I am going to review their entire discography. From This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About to We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank.
This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About (1996)
This album is very special to me for a number of reasons. Generally when I get into different bands, I tend to always appreciate the first album no matter if it's bad or good. Everyone has their roots, we all gotta start somewhere -- y'know? And something I both compliment and critique Modest Mouse on is they started exactly where they are now. The songs from their first release sound almost no different from their songs of today. That's not to say there isn't a noticeable difference stylistically and technically, but if you were to play a song from this album, and their newest album to a casual fan, or even someone who's never heard of Modest Mouse; they would most likely think it's from the same album. However, more recently, having listened through all of their albums again, Issac Brock definitely sounds very young in this album; further proving I apparently have no idea what I'm talking about.
This album holds my favorite Modest Mouse song of all time: Dramamine. Nothing describes Modest Mouses floaty guitar work and dark imagery better than this song, and when I introduce this band to people who have never heard of them, I play this song first.
The Lonesome Crowded West (1997)
A slight departure from their first album, the tone of this is far more angry and less floaty and calm. Listening to the two side by side, I would say Modest Mouse is one of the few bands capable of definitely capturing a mood when it comes to full on albums or even songs. I feel like when I listen to each album, a single emotion comes to mind. When I listened to This is a Long Drive, my thoughts drifted towards "confused"; this album brought up thoughts of "frustration".
Specifically evident of the range Issac Brock can produce is my favorite song off the album "Shit Luck". The raw energy produce by this song never fails to pump me up. I love blasting this song in my car and just headbanging the fuck out of my brains, for lack of better words. However not many songs on here are worth mentioning. And thus, the album, as a whole, kind of lacks in entertainment.
The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
As a whole, this entire album is my favorite of the Modest Mouse discography. Not just because of nostalgic value, but also because it's just great as an album. It combines the tone of the previous two albums into a piece in which I personally feel that Modest Mouse finds their place in. Songs like "3rd Planet" or "Dark Center of the Universe" showcase that raw, angry emotion that Issac can portray, while songs like "Cities Made of Ashes" provide that calming, dark landscape that Modest Mouse can often paint.
This album is not perfect by any means, but when I think of Modest Mouse, I tend to think of this album. It definitely defines their sound.
Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004)
The most popular of their albums, and what gained them a large amount of mainstream fame, is Good News for People Who Love Bad News. As a forewarning, I am not regularly one of those people who claim that "mainstream" albums ruin bands, or "destroy" their "sound" by any means. I save that for rare occasions that it's true...such as "Against Me!"...but that's another review for another time.
However, I definitely think that Modest Mouse gained a lot from their rise in popularity. Not only was it good for the band itself, but also for their production values. This album sounds damn fantastic. There are so many songs on here that I have love for.
Songs I'd like to mention that are some of my personal favorites are "Bukowski", "Satin in a Coffin", "Black Cadillacs" and "Ocean Breaths Salty".
Another fantastic song on this album, is of course the lead single "Float On". I'm one of those people that cannot listen to a song if it has had too many air plays or commercial uses, and "Float On" fits that category for me, but I won't deny the beauty of that song, and the music video that accompanied it.
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)
The most recent Modest Mouse release. I can remember foaming with anticipation back in 2007, when I was waiting and waiting for this to be released. Looking back now, I can see that, while there are a few notable songs on this album, overall I would say it's Modest Mouse's worst work out of their discography. I don't mean this in a bad way, I just don't see the appeal to this album. The only song I can legitimately remember most of the time is "Spitting Venom" and that's because for years I apparently made a parody song called the "Whiskey Song" based upon this song. Other than that, I appreciate the effort, but not the album.