Review Summary: This album is certainly pure Modest Mouse: eclectic, odd, and true to their style. It isn’t anywhere near perfect, but you may find many songs on here that you actually enjoy, despite your opinions of the band.
Following up their 2004 commercially successful release of Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse has stuck largely to their uniquely odd style of music. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is a combination of many styles of music with lead singer Isaac Brock’s voice acting as the common link between each song. The album is essentially a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs in tempo.
The CD begins without holding back. March Into the Sea starts with sudden clash of instruments and drums, with Brock’s voice matching the clamor. The song peaks, then quiets, and then returns to unadulterated chaos, repeating as it progresses. Listening to this song, one might wonder why they would start with such a wild piece, especially with Dashboard acting as the primary lure to the CD’s purchasers. But as the CD progresses it becomes obvious that the eclectic mix of fast and slow pace is the perfect representative of the album as a whole. In essence, this song is not-so-coincidentally on par with the rest of the disc.
Dashboard starts without much hesitation. You’ve probably heard this song if you’re reading this, so you can make your own judgment. My opinion: this song is brilliantly assembled and catchy, even if you can’t understand what Brock is saying.
The CD makes a sudden pace change with Fire It Up. It’s a slow song that sounds like it was computer mixed rather than produced with real instruments, but Modest Mouse does a good job of making it flow.
Following the course of a rollercoaster ride, Florida begins quickly in contrast with Fire it Up. The song is decent, but the real highlight is the Shins singer James Mercer singing backup. His voice gives the song a real uplifting, chorus-like feeling.
Again, two slow songs take over. Parting of the Sensory is depressing song with a folk chant ending. Missed the Boat is a peaceful work with guitar that resembles any given pop-rocker today. The Shins singer rejoins MM on this one and really gives a huge boost to this otherwise mediocre song.
We’ve Got Everything marks the next upward movement of the ride. It’s a funky song that sounds right at home in a 70s dance mix. Whether or not you like this song will depend on your genre preferences, not your like or dislike of Modest Mouse. Therefore, I will let this one be up to you.
The CD goes downhill from here.
The next two songs portray the odd side of Modest Mouse. They draw in the older fans of Modest Mouse, but to many people I predict they will be just plain annoying. Only the most hardcore of fan boys will truly love these songs.
Little Motel is another listenable slow song. After a few times through, however, you may find yourself skipping this one. It consists of a decent chorus and a solo that starts well but is butchered by over-layering.
Steam Engenius is just plain annoying. Between the repetitive lyrics and constant woo-hoo’s, it totally ruins all it had going for it. The song is just sub-par album filler.
Spitting Venom kicks in and finally salvages the second half of the CD. At first it sounds like a folk song, but at about a minute and a half into the song, the guitars burst in with great force. The song climaxes and sounds superb, and then it slowly fades into one excellent guitar led instrumental. It is a perfect lullaby. I could fall asleep to this part of the song peacefully every night. As it concludes, vocals begin and slowly grow into one great chant that really pulls the song together. As an eight minute, beautifully assembled work of music, I would have liked to see the CD end to this song.
It keeps going, though.
People as Places as People is good, but it sounds almost like a continuation of Spitting Venom. It is just another filler song that needs more work to be anything truly great.
Just as they came in, Modest Mouse decided to go out with a not so subtle song. Invisible bursts in with MM’s trademark fast clamor and chaos. It’s odd but perhaps not a coincidence that the CD comes clashing in and goes clashing out.
This album is certainly pure Modest Mouse: eclectic, odd, and true to their style. It isn’t anywhere near perfect, but you may find many songs on here that you actually enjoy, despite your opinions of the band. The first half of the CD is better that the second half, so maybe its best for anyone interested to avoid the rollercoaster ride and download songs individually.
After all, rollercoasters make some people sick.