Review Summary: I think this is a really great album, although i think the first half is a lot better than the second half. I feel Modest Mouse sort threw in a few songs in the second half of the album which didn't need to be there.
You may say Modest Mouse have progressed as a band over the years, especially with their latest album We Were Dead before the Ship Even Sank. I think this is definitely not true, but that is only my opinion. To me, their greatest success is The Lonely Crowded West, which is their most driven and Pixies-esque album, with out-of-tune guitars and simple rhythms. If you are unfamiliar with Modest Mouse you may want to start out by buying a different album, maybe their debut or their latest, which both have much to offer but aren’t as raw as this one. I think this album defines them as band more than any of their other albums.
Teeth like God’s Shoeshine – This track starts out with a fast guitar riff quickly followed by screaming vocals and fast drums. Like quite a few of the tracks on this album, the fast guitar soon slows down but is fast to pick up with a different riff. This song is a good starter to the album although I think it could have been a little shorter. 3/5
Heart Cooks Brain- This song is very cool. It has a great guitar and bass riff, and excellent thought out lyrics. The only think that sucks about this track is that it doesn’t really change at all but it is still worth listening to. 3/5
Convenient Parking – This is one of my favorite tracks off this album. It starts out fast with vocals that tell a story, although they repeat themselves throughout the whole song. The chorus of this song is great even though the vocals (which sound very much like Frank Black’s) are thrown out and out of tune. Towards the end of the track a second guitar comes in with an excellent riff building up to what you think will be the chorus, but it just ends. This song sounds a lot like a Pixies song but still has something that makes you place it as original. 4/5
Lounge (Closing Time) – This track starts off with a scratchy guitar riff and a Hawaiian sounding bass riff. The vocals start out by saying “She was going with a cinematographer, but everyone knew he was really a pornographer.” The track slows down similar to Teeth like God’s Shoeshine, which sounds nice but isn’t anything really memorable. What’s neat about this track is that it changes a lot, unlike some of the other tracks, like Heart Cooks Brain. 4/5
Jesus Christ was an Only Child – This track is really cool because it doesn’t sound like anything else on the album. It is acoustic, and includes a violin, which is a nice touch. This track is pretty creepy because of the vocals and lyrics, which make the track sound almost hypnotic. This isn’t one of my favorites, but I’ll give it a 3/5 because it’s entirely different.
Doin’ the Cockroach – This is definitely my favorite track, for many reasons. It begins with a descending guitar riff, and when the vocals begin it makes an eerie combination, which sounds almost sad. Before long the track picks up and sounds very punkish, which is a cool touch to the album. 4.5/5
Cowboy Dan – Well this track is really interesting…when I first heard it, it was really unappealing to me, but it eventually grew on me. It has an interesting rhythm to it, sounding very western, telling the story of a cowboy suffering from the pain of fame. “He goes to the reservation, drinks and gets mean, he goes to the desert fires his rifle in the sky and says ‘God if I have to die, you will have to die’.” 3/5
Trailer Trash – This song is very simple but very catchy as well. The guitar is basic, as are the other instruments. The song tells of the “Trailer Trash” of the West. Vocals describe paper plates, hoping to finish high school, relationships falling apart after having a couple of kids. Simple but very catchy, with a cool guitar solo. 4/5
Out of Gas – This track sounds really similar to Heart Cooks Brain, which kind of makes it a gimmick. It tells of someone “Out of gas, out of road, out of car I don’t know how I’m gonna go.” I found nothing really original or interesting about this track. 2/5
Long Distance Drunk – This track starts out acoustic with simple drums, simple vocals. I didn’t really think there was anything special about this track, besides female back up vocals which sort of save the song. 2.5/5
*** Luck – “THIS PLANE IS DEFINITELY CRASHING!” the vocals scream as a fast punky guitar and bass riff and drums blare right afterwards. This track is cool because it catches your attention after the previous two tracks which may have made you lose interest. It is also a neat track because they experiment with the guitars doing cool bends and what not. 3/5
Truckers Atlas – This is a cool track remaining on the theme of the West. The story tells of different states they’ve been to, due to a truckers atlas, which helps them out. This isn’t really anything incredible, but is still worth listening to because of the guitar riff, which is cool. 3/5
Polar Opposites – This track starts out slow but happy sounding. It is a really good track because the lyrics are cool and the chorus is really awesome. Even though this track is really good I still feel I’ve definitely heard it done before, but that’s ok because this band is pretty original in general. 3.5/5
Bankrupt on Selling – This track is sort of a ballad, with both an acoustic and electric guitar. The electric guitar sort of saves this track, as do the vocals, which talk about love and the love of drugs. 3/5
Styrofoam Boots/It’s all nice on Ice, Alright – Track is a good closer. It starts out sounding kind of folk-like with lyrics that don’t really make sense but you still get the idea that it has to do with breaking through ice and drowning, hence the title. About halfway through the drums kick in and the song picks up. The vocals scream “It’s all nice on ice, alright.” 3.5/5