Modest Mouse
The Moon & Antarctica


5.0
classic

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
May 14th, 2010 | 625 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


There’s a point in “Lives” in which Isaac Brock and his two cohorts trade twanged acoustic arpeggios and defeatism-sore lyrics for the entrance of quite an unexpected, uplifting, jubilant acoustic chord progression, on top of which Brock philosophizes, “It’s hard to remember, it’s hard to remember to live before you die,” and following to end by seemingly adding more questions than he answers with a defeated, “My hell comes from the inside, comes from the inside / Why fight this?” The change in the song’s structure is certainly abrupt and a little jarring. But what would appear to be two disparate pieces, shamelessly thrown on top of each other, actually collect and flow seamlessly as one song. Any surprise by the change for the listener is deserted once Brock returns to the prior sets of arpeggios, closing on a repeated lyrical line, “Everyone’s afraid of their own lives / If you could be anything, you’d be disappointed, am I right?” On any other album, such a serrate of material might feel disjointed, immature, and even reckless; but on The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse have actually been pulling off this sort of mischief in the twelve tracks leading up to this song, even going on further to effectively carry such a unified division of material to its very end on the tumultuous final fifteenth cut, “What People Are Made Of”.

Indeed, The Moon & Antarctica starts on the instant-highlight “3rd Planet,” skips with nary a slight hint of discord and trouble through the floating and swaying ocean tide of “Perfect Disguise,” falls down into the dark trenches of hell in the self-disgracing “Alone Down There,” collides into the paranoid fears of men with an allusion to a real-life accusation of rape for Brock in “Paper Thin Walls,” and finally closes in a fashion of late-90s rip-rockin’ Mouse in “What People Are Made of.” Sound like a journey? It is, and how Isaac Brock is successfully able to spew every lisp-tinged, infectiously catchy line over the frequently varying instrumental sections of The Moon & Antarctica and still come out with a classic album remains a mystery to me; all that I know is that it works, and the record even seems to gain a degree of cohesion and purpose with every time that I hear it. The acoustic arpeggios that enter us into Moon set a proper stage for the over-and-under arching lyrical concepts to follow: life, death, purpose, relationships, and God. In the opener, Brock and drummer Jeremiah Green pound flushing distorted guitar chords with beats and snaps synced to perfection, on which Brock postulates, “The universe is shaped exactly like the earth / If you go straight long enough, you’ll end up exactly where you were.”

You can always count on Modest Mouse to surprise you on The Moon & Antarctica; their lyrics, more often than not, will raise an eyebrow with their level of profoundness and clever wording, as opposed to being lost in the ruckus the band can often fall into in their more chaotic ventures (“Dark Center of the Universe,” “The Stars Are Projectors,” and “What People are Made of”). On “Dark Center of the Universe”, the band trade reverb moods and high-guitar notes for a spastic, distorted rush, Brock gaining aggression and tension with the music, furtively declaring, “Well, it took a lot of work to be the ass I am / And I’m really damn sure that anyone can easily fuck you over.” Brock isn’t afraid to tell his mind here, whether the subject of interest happens to be God or a girl, and he takes the role of the being the authority. On the center-piece climax of the album, the epic and the most post-rock-esque experience the band have laid to studio, the near-nine-minute “The Stars Are Projectors,” Brock takes an uncertain and skeptical mid-life crisis stance, seemingly throwing religion and politics out the window: “Right wing, left wing, chicken wing / It’s built on finding the easier ways through.” You’ll find the more that you listen to The Moon & Antarctica, what should seemingly not work when placed together actually does. Profound themes merge with the unexpected, spectacularly melodic, and purposeful musical exploits that almost seem to run through, under, and above what is going on here in Modest Mouse’s major-label debut.

That characteristic is really the beauty of The Moon & Antarctica. What is described as containing “weird cacophony, jarring interludes, mellow meanderings, and general tunelessness,” by A. V. Club’s Stephen Thompson, is indeed, despite the description, still coherent and easy flowing. How, you might ask? By the incorporation of an overarching lyrical theme, timeless melodies, and, the real key to it all, an almost godly sense of precision. Modest Mouse entered the 2000s gloriously, crafting the indie rock album that contemporaries and future offspring of the band could only look back and try to emulate; one of last decade’s best albums has sat near the top of the pile with little, if any, competition to take its place. On a more personal note, though, this is an album that I can return to again and again, where I can almost always find something new, whether it be a different perspective on life or some hidden musical nuisance. As I am a consumer of all sets and sizes of sounds, The Moon & Antarctica is the treasure of my search for a near-perfect album. Pitchfork’s Brent DiCrescenzo couldn’t have summed up his feelings and mine in a better way: “Modest Mouse seek salvation in God, death, and relationships. Fortunately, the rest of us can sometimes find it in records.” This, I have found to be true for myself, is one of those records.



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user ratings (1837)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
joshuatree
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


3742 Comments


ugh con tri bu tor please

excellent review btw, album's really good but i don't listen to it as much as i should tbh

Ponton
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, happy one year anniversary sputnik

this is for yeti and rom, also anyone who loves this album or who has yet to hear it.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


17222 Comments


I freaking adore this album.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


15051 Comments


new edition cover of this album (i.e. your avatar) looks kinda like a vag cant unsee

Ire
May 14th 2010


41795 Comments


I neg'd




by accident. Good review

Ponton
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh its cool, thanks man.

And id never really looked at it like that before persona, but yeah you're right

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


17222 Comments


Where do circles begin?

Ponton
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

everytime I hear that song I get a huge popplagið vibe


Yeah, it really is. There's not a bad song tbh

Romulus
May 14th 2010


8441 Comments


Really awesome review Jared (and happy Sputnik anniversary) I used to listen to the album with Dramamine on it a lot back in the day but I really haven't heard much else by these guys. Seems like this is a must?

Relinquished
May 14th 2010


25211 Comments


amazing album and great review bro

NeutralThunder12
May 14th 2010


8742 Comments


I dont know why I cant get into this.

Ponton
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Appreciate it relin, and yeah rom, definitely a must. This and Lonsome crowded west are albums I think you would love. This has a certain Brand New feel to me as well.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


15051 Comments


somehow something strikes me strange about how you describe both the 'arpeggios' and later the
'unexpected, uplifting, jubilant chord progressions' as 'acoustic' in the first sentence--redundant,
i guess? i just feel like you shouldn't mention that it's acoustic both times because the point of
that sentence seems to be the juxtaposition of the two sections of the song--not the similarity. but
no biggie anyways.

"and following to end by seemingly adding" (1st sentence)

this makes sense so it's not a big deal, but to me it reads weird--i don't really know how you'd fix
it but whatevs haha

i also have no idea what 'serrate' means...could you explain? i think i have an idea but yeah
haha.

"On any other album, such a serrate of material might feel disjointed, immature, and even reckless;
but on The Moon & Antarctica, "

not absolutely positive but pretty sure that semicolon shouldnt be there; probably a comma.

"but on The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse have actually been pulling this sort of mischief in the
twelve tracks leading up to this song,"

"pulling off", maybe? i don't know but it doesn't sound right to me as it is.

"even going on further to effectively carry such a unified division of material to its very end on
the tumultuous final fifteenth cut, “What People are Made of”."

this just reads weird to me haha. (actually now that im reading further it makes a bit more sense
hehe but i still think somehow you could switch some words around and do some stuff to make it make
a little more sense.)

"closes in a fashion of late-90s rip-rockin’ Mouse in “What People Are Made of.” "

can anyone tell me the rule on ending a sentence with a song title? i've never put the period within
the song title (so, "What People are Made Of".), but i might be wrong. i also think you should
capitalize "Of" in the song title. and lowercase "are" I think too, though this really is just
nitpicky.

"The acoustic arpeggios that enter us into Moon set a proper stage for the over-and-under arching
lyrical concepts to follow: life, death, purpose, relationships, and God."

and how do they do this? you don't really explain, haha. (edit: on further inspection it's actually
fine with the subsequent sentences altho i still think it could use a lil more explanation)

" the singer and drummer Jeremiah Green pound flushing distorted guitar "

i know it is not so (i think????) but this makes it seem as if jeremiah green is both the drummer
and singer--at least in my opinion.



robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


15051 Comments


"You can always count on Modest Mouse to surprise you here; their lyrics more, often than not,"

saying 'here' is kind of weird because i, as the reader, am not exactly sure what 'here' is--you mention a lyric in the prior paragraph but it's still a little confusing, imo. also, either remove the comma after "more" and "not" or keep the comma after "not" and move the comma after "more" to after "lyrics"

"will raise an eyebrow on The Moon & Antarctica"

i feel like naming the album is redundant.

"with their level of profoundness"

i may be wrong but i thiiiink the word is 'profundity'

"On “Dark Center of the Universe”, the band trade reverb moods"

what are 'reverb moods'?

"and he takes the role of the being the authority."

doesnt make sense

"On the center-piece climax of the album, the epic and the most post-rock-esque experience the band have laid to studio, the near-nine-minute “The Stars Are Projectors,"

this whole thing is just way too long as an introduction to the sentence and thusly reads weird--i'd also suggest getting rid of either 'climax' or 'center-piece'; i think only one is really needed.

"You’ll find that as the more that you listen to The Moon & Antarctica"

i think this reads better with a comma after 'that'.

"whether it be a different perspective on life or some hidden musical nuisance."

'nuance'--not nuisance.

"As a consumer of all sets and sizes of sounds, The Moon & Antarctica is the treasure of my search for a near-perfect album."

dangling modifier--this sentence implies that "The Moon & Antarctica" is the consumer mentioned in the first half of the sentence, and not you.

good review!

Ponton
Emeritus
May 14th 2010


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

'serrate' is having sharp projections

'not absolutely positive but pretty sure that semicolon shouldnt be there; probably a comma.' - it works either way, a semicolon can be used to sepperate individual clauses if a comma has already been used.

"even going on further to effectively carry such a unified division of material to its very end on the tumultuous final fifteenth cut, “What People are Made of”." - in context to what I say in the rest of the review, this should make sense. Read harder.

" the singer and drummer Jeremiah Green pound flushing distorted guitar " - its implied and stated that Isaac brock is the singer. You shouldn't be confused there.

i may be wrong but i thiiiink the word is 'profundity' - Edit: actually both work just fine

"and he takes the role of the being the authority." - in context of whether lyrics are about god or woman and telling his mind either way, I don't see how that doesn't make sense tbh

'climax' or 'center-piece' - these do not mean the same thing, man. Using both is not necessarily redundant.

"You’ll find that as the more that you listen to The Moon & Antarctica" - no, adding a comma would just make it sound disjointed.

'nuance'--not nuisance - thanks.

"As a consumer of all sets and sizes of sounds, The Moon & Antarctica is the treasure of my search for a near-perfect album." - thanks for that one and should be fixed, though theres no reason you should be confused with who i am referring to.


Thanks dude, but a lot of these are just your personal preference and your writing style showing through. I'll edit a few of these, but not others. Many work as they are, grammatically too.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2010


15051 Comments


i dont want this to turn into some kind of war but just to clear some things up

"in context to what I say in the rest of the review, this should make sense. Read harder."

it's not necessarily that it 'doesn't make sense' as much as it reads strangely--if you can read
"even going on further to effectively carry such a unified division of material to its very end on
the tumultuous final fifteenth cut" and tell me it feels fine then i guess it's your call but it's
certainly doesn't feel that way to me.

"its implied and stated that Isaac brock is the singer. You shouldn't be confused there."

it's not as if i was under that impression really, but it just might cause the slightest of
confusions for those unitiatied--i feel as if "singer Isaac Brock and drummer Jeremiah Green", a
small change, would make it feel better. still, your call.

"no, adding a comma would just make it sound disjointed." read it aloud, i feel like theres
definitely something amiss...here's a suggestion

"You'll find that as the more that you listen to The Moon & Antarctica"

to

"You'll find that the more you listen to The Moon & Antarctica"--yes?


"though theres no reason you should be confused with who i am referring to."

not a matter of my confusion as much as just incorrect grammar, haha

i hope i'm not coming off as pretentious or overly defensive or anything

Ponton
Emeritus
May 15th 2010


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

No its cool, and I appreciate the crit. Thanks persona

someone's finally figured out that I'm not all that great at this, bout time haha

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2010


15051 Comments


on another note why do i have a sudden addiction to em dashes

mmfarva
May 15th 2010


1352 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Great review. Amazing album.

Jethro42
May 15th 2010


12479 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So we're drinkin drinkin drinkin drinkin coca coca cola




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