Reviews

Published on February 25th, 2007 | by The Monarch

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Modest Mouse — We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

American indie rock band Modest Mouse are set to release their new album entitled We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank on March 20th and you should go and buy it. The band hasn’t released an album since 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News and whilst that was a fair effort, I felt there was a lot of filler there.

This new offering is the complete opposite. I’ve listened through probably about five times and whilst some songs don’t grab me straight away you can tell it’s very, very good.

The biggest difference in the band was the major coup of acquiring former Smith Johnny Marr as a full time band member. This is a new start for the guitarist who’s solo band “Johnny Marr and the Healers” left a lot to be desired. Thankfully Johnny is kept away from the microphone and is sticking to guitars and song writing. His trademark jangley and poppy upbeat style is very evident on this new album.

The man who formed the band and is the lead singer, Isaac Brock, has confirmed that Marr “is now a full blown member of the band and he will tour with us in the near future.”

Brock’s vocals on the album are superb and one must wonder if he has spent time between albums visiting Mike Patton’s vocal camp for the mentally disadvantaged.

They simply got it right with this one, it perfectly blends the grungier mid-90s Modest Mouse with the grand sweeping aesthetic of The Moon & Antarctica and the pop sensibilities of Good News.

The lead single off the album is “Dashboard” it’s a simple pop song, but by lord it’s catchy. That’s all it has to be as well. It grabs your attention with a catchy fast paced beat and lyrics that make no sense, a true Modest Mouse single.

The album starts off with the strange “March into the Sea”. I don’t really know what is going on with this one. It paints a picture of the band sitting by the docks playing accordions for passing by Sailors. The song could easily be on the next “Best of Sesame Street” album. This song reminds me of something that Sparks would put out, especially with lyrics like “If you think you know enough to know you know we’ve had enough, and If you think you don’t, you probably will.”

Elsewhere on the album are stand out tracks like “Fly trapped in a Jar” and “Fire it up”.
The former starts with what you would have believed is a Fly trapped in a jar but soon becomes apparent it’s just Marr working some magic with his guitar to create the effect. The song is something Franz Ferdinand or The Arctic Monkeys only wish they could make. It begins slowly yet still catchy and then shifts gears half way through into an upbeat funky rocker. This one will be a show stealer when performed live.

The 8 and a half minute mostly accoustic “Spitting Venom” situated in the latter half of the album shows off the band’s ability to change gears multiple times during a song. If you skip to different random parts of the song and listen to it in 10 second lots it’s hard to believe it’s the same song, yet when listend the entire way through it flows beautifully.

“Little Motel” is the softer side of Modest Mouse, Brock’s vocals are beautiful and fit the music absolutely perfectly. It also shows the band’s more serious side and their ability to make a touching song in amoungst all the craziness. As soon as you hear this song only one word comes to mind – WEEN. And that’s always very good.

“Steam Enginus” reminds me of a Weird Al Yankovic song and “Missed the Boat” is the song that straight away tells you that Johnny Marr is most definitely a Modest Mouse! It has a fantastic opening line of “While we’re on the subject, can we change the subject now”

If you’re not already a Modest Mouse fan this album could be a grower, I loved it right from the start. Either way this is an album you should get a copy a hold of one way or another.


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