Album Review: Modest Mouse – No One’s First And You’re Next

July 17, 2009

Who's on first?

Concept: An EP of polished tracks from the cutting floors of their last two albums.

Sound: A lot of the songs aren’t necessarily the rare tracks a fan might have discovered before now, but they do recycle previous material. The EP fits together rather nicely in its own right. This isn’t just a grab bag of scraps anymore. These songs can stand on their own, a handful of them dry and chattery reels that avoid the sounds if not the styles of their hits. After the infamous disappointments of the last album, fans might expect this collection to be a sign of the band’s entrance into an existential crisis…then again, Modest Mouse is often advertised and even exalted as a catalogue of melodic existential crises. One track that really stands out for anyone with such concerns is Whale Song, which testifies to a kernel of Modest Mouse’s screwy, monstrous old sound still trying to escape from the cause or effects of their recent assimilation into mainstream music. There’s hope yet that the band can reconcile all its forms with each other.

Lyrics: Repetitive, bitter, and independent. It’s a little irritating that someone with as much clout as Isaac Brock so loves to demonize God; you can’t help but feel he needs religion more than a believer sometimes, if only for commercial reasons. The important thing is that he gets his message across inside the flow of his songs, and it’s more catchy than preachy, not to mention it’s usually ambiguous enough to apply to anybody in your life you don’t like.

Quick And Dirty: A worthwhile retracing of the band’s steps that does its part to expand and restore them. (♦♦♦♦)

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