Modest Mouse
The Lonesome Crowded West


4.5
superb

Review

by Tyler USER (14 Reviews)
March 26th, 2010 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dark and full of cynicism, The Lonesome Crowded West is an excellent album by an outstanding band. The lyrics, vocals, and instruments all work together incredibly well with very few missteps.

Modest Mouse is an indie rock band formed way back in 1993 in Issaquah, Washington. Over the last decade, their style has evolved into a more poppy and mainstream sound. With singles "Float On,""Ocean Breathes Salty,""Dashboard," and others, paired with SNL appearances and Grammy nominations their popularity in the mainstream has also grown.

Unfortunately, this change in style and increase in popularity have not necessarily been matched with an increase in the quality of their music. While the two new albums, Good News For People Who Love Bad News and We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, and the EP No One's First and You're Next, are good in their own right, most people would argue that their earlier work stands head and shoulders above it.

The Lonesome Crowded West is one of those earlier works, and definitely one of their best. It is dark and full of pessimism, with topics ranging from religion to lamentations about civilization's advance and the doomed state of humanity. Every part of this record is excellent, from the jagged, jumpy guitars, to the rhythmic drumming, to frontman Isaac Brock's yelps, croons, and beautifully sad lyrics.

Religion is explored and decried often. In the very measured beats of Jesus Christ was an only child, Brock expounds on the failure of religion in today's technological society and the anger of God. God comes up again in "Cowboy Dan," the tale of a man saddened by the encroachment of civilization on his beloved West. There is nothing he can do though, so, "He goes to the reservation, drinks and gets mean/ He drove to the desert, fired his rifle in the sky/ And said, "God, if I have to die, you will have to die." Then, in the clever finale "Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice, Alright," Brock has a conversation with a man who says,:

"'Every time anyone gets on their knees to pray well, it makes my telephone ring
And I'll be damned' he said, "'You were right no one's running this whole thing'
He had a theory, too
He said that God takes care of himself, God takes care of himself, and you of you"

Brock uses his lyrical mastery to explore many other topics though. In the metaphor riddled "Heart Cooks Brain," a slower song that reels you in with repetitive guitar riffs, the always-troubled Brock sings of how the heart and brain cause trouble for each other, and when he tries to clear his head, "I push things out through my mouth/ But get refilled through my ears." In the fun but dark song "Doin' the Cockroach," he compares us to cockroaches, running around our whole lives accomplishing nothing of real meaning. And in one of my personal favorites, "Out of Gas," he gets drunk and tells those on their high horses that "You will come down soon too."

In addition to cynicism and sarcasm, there is also genuine sadness in some of these songs. "Trailer Trash" is a ballad about being poor and unprivileged, and really tugs on the heart strings, as cliche as that is. Many can surely relate to this song, with it's references to divorce, loss, high school, and being a jerk. Self-loathing is often addressed along with sadness, and is the main emotion in the song "Polar Opposites," where Brock croons that, "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day that I cannot sleep away."

One of the best lyrics comes in the excellent and fun, but overly long, Trucker's atlas, when Brock spouts "I don't feel and it feels great." Another lyrical gem is the incredibly mellow "Bankrupt on Selling." Here, like on "Trailer Trash," Brock takes a break from the yelping goes with a softer crooning, relying on the lyrics and the mood to create emotion in this song. One standout lyric:

"Well, I'll go to college and I'll learn some big words
And I'll talk real loud, goddamn right I'll be heard
You'll remember the guy who said all those big words
He must have learned in college."

And *** Luck is about, well, *** luck. It's frantic and crazy and a really fun song.

This is a very long album, but it is also incredible. Full of cynicism and dark humor, it is nevertheless beautiful and touching. From the first chaotic notes of the schizophrenic "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine" to the final rocking rhythms of "Styrofoam Boots," this album never disappoints.



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user ratings (1429)
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4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AggravatedYeti
March 26th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

album rules

tom79
March 26th 2010


3380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album, but I think M&A just barely beats it. But Teeth Like God's Shoeshine is Modest Mouse's best song in my opinion.

Digging: I Kill Giants - I Kill Giants

PigDestroyer89
March 26th 2010


669 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is their best album and Truckers Atlas is my fav off this

PigDestroyer89
March 26th 2010


669 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Double post ftl

mmfarva
March 26th 2010


1352 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

TLCW and M&A are so close, but I've always loved the mood TLCW has. I can't really describe it.

AggravatedYeti
March 26th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ive always felt the anger and disenchantment with the American Sprawl was something they almost calmed and honed on Moon & Antarctica, the final and best of their road-trip trilogy.
personally of course, but its like picking between your children when it comes to MM albums honestly.

WatchItExplode
March 26th 2010


3292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I HAD A DRINK...THE OTHER DAY, OPINIONS WERE LIKE KITTENS I WAS GIVIN' EM' AWAY AND...

plane
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2010


6099 Comments


This is a great little review but there are a few grammar/coding mistakes you could pick up if you read back through. I've played the shit out of "Long-Distance Drunk."

WatchItExplode
March 26th 2010


3292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ditto, love that track so chill and hypnotic

AggravatedYeti
March 26th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

mmmm I haven't listened to this in months

nice reminder.

the amount of times Ive driven up/down 95 in Virginia blasting this is almost criminal.

mmfarva
March 26th 2010


1352 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Alright, got the coding fixed and some of the grammar. Might've still missed some, though, I usually do.


Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2010


17224 Comments


Even though this has tons of my favorite Modest Mouse songs, taking in the album as a whole can almost be a chore giving my nod to The Moon and Antarctica and their debut.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
March 26th 2010


862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

THIS PLANE IS DEFINITELY CRASHING

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2010


17224 Comments


DUNA NUNA DUNNA NNA

LeMartien
March 26th 2010


75 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

After my first listen a few years back I thought this was very overrated, but it has grown on me ever since. Influential and original. Still think a couple of songs should have been left out, maybe Truckers Atlas and Long Distance Drunk... The album's a bit too long.
Good & accurate review.

PigDestroyer89
March 26th 2010


669 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Truckers Atlas is the best song on here...You fail

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2010


17224 Comments


what the fuck are you talking about? Trailer Trash, Teeth Like God's Shoeshine, Bankrupt on Selling, Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice Alright, Doin' the Cockroach, Cowboy Dan, Shit Luck, and Polar Opposites all kick the shit out of Trucker's Atlas

PigDestroyer89
March 26th 2010


669 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

How did you not mention Heart Cooks Brain! Second best song

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2010


17224 Comments


you really aren't winning any points today. My favorite songs on here are Trailer Trash and Bankrupt on Selling.

AggravatedYeti
March 26th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Teeth Like God's Shoeshine - Trailer Trash - Out of Gas - Cowboy Dan - Jesus Christ..
imo ya know.



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