Showing posts with label modest mouse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label modest mouse. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2015

video review: 'strangers to ourselves' by modest mouse

Man, it seems like we're on a streak of underwhelming albums here, and this one is weaker than even I expected, especially considering it took eight years to make it... eh, it happens.

Next up, Ludacris - stay tuned!

album review: 'strangers to ourselves' by modest mouse

It's the dream story of any indie rock band - well, at least the first half of it is. You start out with a ramshackle, rough-edged sound that catches the ear thanks to solid melodic interplay and distinctive vocals, that's just enough to entice people to read your lyrics. And while they might be a little disjointed and indulgent on that first album, your second release cleans things up significantly, refines the storytelling, and ends up creating a critically acclaimed gem, one that actually manages to snag the appeal of a major label. And your fans tense immediately - would you lose your sound in favour of something that was popular? Would you sell out?

But somehow against all odds, you use the major label influence and budget to only further refine your sound and improve the mix, and your newest release is even more critically acclaimed. There are a fair number of fans who prefer your sophomore release, but they can at least respect the cohesion and added polish that comes with time and more ambition. And then somehow on your next album from said major label, a single somehow catches fire not just on rock radio but everywhere. Suddenly, you're not just critically acclaimed, but you have an earworm of a hit and dropping an album that goes platinum, something you never would have expected.

That was the story of Modest Mouse, and it seemed like for four albums since their debut in the mid-90s they could do no wrong... and then something happened. Their 2007 follow-up, We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank, to their 2004 major break-out wasn't bad, taking a loose nautical theme for their typical brand of manic depression and confusion. And sure, it was decent, but I don't know if it was the much cleaner production, slightly more commercial focus, or songwriting that just felt a few shades less sharp than their best, but it didn't click with me as well. To me, some of that trademark raw, fluid power had been eased back, even with the added talents of The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr. And the thing is that it wasn't bad music, it just didn't seem to have that same spark.

Well, from that, Modest Mouse seemed to drop off the face of the earth, with only an extended EP in 2009 to mark any sort of progress. But now, eight years later, we have a new Modest Mouse album and I'm finally getting a chance to cover it. Yeah, I know I'm a little late to the punch here, but going through that entire discography in depth took a long time. So does Strangers To Ourselves hold up to their best?