Review Summary: B-sides that sound better on the A side.
Ever since signing with Sony for the release of 2000's The Moon & Antarctica
, commercially, Modest Mouse have been on the up and up. "Gravity Rides Everything" was in a Nissan commercial, "Float On" got too damn popular for it's own good (can someone say Kidz Bop?!?!), and "Dashboard" brought out the inner hipster in middle aged parents nationwide. While it's always nice to see a band that deserves it make it to the top, Modest Mouse seemed to lose that depressing but oh so endearing existential angst and dense sonic exploration that built their loyal fan base. This is funny to mention, because with their latest release No One's First and You're Next
they've managed to outshine a large portion of their recent material with just a few B-sides. While No One's First and You're Next
isn't a stylistic regression back to their early years, what it does is combine the overall attitude of past Modest Mouse favorites with their new bouncier, more singles oriented sound.
Tracks like "Autumn Beds" and "Satellite Skin" sound like the softer moments of We Were Dead and Good News respectively. While some die-hards look down on the lack of edge in fellow songs like "Little Motels", both are prime examples of the non-threatening side of Isaac Brock's song writing. Especially "Autumn Beds, with it's candy coated vocal delivery and ridiculously addictive sing along chorus. "Whale Song" recalls the dense atmospherics and moody swing that made tracks like "Cowboy Dan" and "Stars are Projectors" fan favorites. Its building baseline roars into a cathartic release of jarring notes, accented with just the right amount of Isaac's trademark tremolo, that boom over a wall of swelling effects in one of the finest moments in Modest Mouse's discography. Modest Mouse even expand on the hints of bayou influence and Tom Waits worship that ran through Good News For People Who Like Bad News with the brooding horns of "King Rat" and the jangly instrumentation and raucous vocalizations on "Perpetual Motion Machine". The EP's closer, "I've Got It All(Most)", is the closest thing to the classic Modest Mouse sound to be released in years, especially with lyrics like "I've got it all almost all figured out/But always when I get there/Always when I get there all the pieces they just fall apart." It begs to be placed in a mix tape right in between "Trailer Trash" and "Polar Opposites".
It's no surprise that No One's First and You're Next
is such a quality release. The last two B-Sides and rarities compilations put out by the Issaquah, Washington, indie superstars, Building Something Out of Nothing
and Everywhere And His Nasty Parlor Tricks
, contained some of their best songs and No One's First...
definitely follows the trend.