Review Summary: ...and good news it is.
Following up a near masterpiece can be quite a difficult experience for a band, often being terrifying and somewhat troubling the writing process. That being said, I cannot imagine following up two of them. Modest Mouse gained critical and (somewhat) commercial acclaim with the respective releases of 1997's Indie-rocker "The Lonesome Crowded West" and 2000's dark and brooding "The Moon And Antarctica". Four years, sixteen songs later, and even a number one hit on the modern rock charts, Modest Mouse present us with the somewhat different Good News For People Who Love Bad News.
One of the first things apparent with Good News is that it has a slightly more optimistic approach than their previous records. The music evokes emotions of summer and happiness instead of the dread that was found on the The Moon And Antarctica. Starting with the laid-back and restricted "The World At Large" that segues into the major hit "Float On", Good News shows promise right from the start. The quirkiness found on Good News is similar to that of earlier releases and it makes the record only so much more fun. All of the songs are memorable and are some of the catchiest songs in the Modest Mouse repertoire yet. Never showing any sort of repetition, each song has it's own style and stand on their own as their own identities, ranging from the previously mentioned "World At Large" to the maniacal banjo based track "Satin In A Coffin".
Not that any of this optimism has come at the expense of good songwriting. The band includes a variety of instruments to keep things fresh, enlisting the use of banjos, piano, an array of strings, fiddles and even accordion. Isaac Brock has always been one of my favorite lyricist, often touching subjects such as religion and death. None of this has changed on Good News as Isaac Brock shows he can still write great in-depth lyrics. On "Ocean Breathes Salty" Brock sings "For your sake I hope heaven and hell are really there/but I wouldn't hold my breath", proving that he still has that sarcastic bite to his words. Brock’s approach to singing has always been strange, sometimes even resorting to incoherent yelling but barely does this make any track suffer. Similar to their previous outings, Brock’s thought-provoking lyrics make their music a much more interesting listen.
Good News is nowhere near a perfect album though. Filler occupies a little too much space in the form of short one-to-two minute horn interludes and interrupt the overall flow and consistency of some songs. Brock’s incoherent rambling on songs such as "Dance Hall" or "Bury Me With It" seems a little unnecessary at times. The acoustic folk outing of "Blame It On The Tetons" is fantastic but drags a little longer than it's welcomed. The Flaming Lips produced closer "The Good Times Are Killing Me" seems like a strange way to end a record that is overall filled with more up-beat or up-tempo songs. But this are only minor blemishes on such a fantastic album. Overall Good News may not be their best album to date, but it seemed like an appropriate follow up to the fantastic Moon And Antarctica. Good News stands as another great release in the Modest Mouse discography.
World At Large
Ocean Breathes Salty