Modest Mouse
The Moon & Antarctica


5.0
classic

Review

by Justin Swope USER (82 Reviews)
February 11th, 2014 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Moon & Antarctica is a beautiful collapse that brings Modest Mouse into moody territory as they slowly sink through the cold air.

It was a cold January evening as I wearily slogged home through the slush coating the streets of my college town. My numbed hand reached for my iPod and proceeded to play Modest Mouse’s The Moon & Antarctica. As Isaac Brock’s heartrending musing commenced, I noticed I was entirely alone. Except for a column of flickering streetlights in my path, I was the only thing within plain sight that was emanating heat. Suddenly, on this uneventful walk home, I was contemplating the meaning and purpose of existence. Are we - or more specifically, am I - nothing more than a piece of matter in this infinitely gigantic universe? I felt small and feeble, but I then realized that regardless of whether or not life really means anything, it’s important to remember to “live before you die”. The Moon & Antarctica is an album of revelations like that, as majestic or dour as they may be.

Modest Mouse’s third LP finds the band taking an incredibly moody approach to their songwriting. Excising many of the spastic breakdowns that saturated The Lonesome Crowded West, this record is more focused and atmospheric. The spectacular flow from track to track demonstrates compositional finesse and conceptual unity. In addition, Isaac Brock’s brilliant lyricism broaches topics like the illusions of faith and religion, existentialism, nature, and loneliness in the midst of it all. The first line he drops on the opener, “3rd Planet”, “Everything that keeps me together is falling apart”, suggests the inevitability of a downward slope. As the precipice draws nearer, the tone of the album grows darker and darker. Modest Mouse’s sonic depth makes this descent both believable and immersive.

Retaining their indie rock aesthetic in an overwhelmingly brooding environment, the band utilizes wide, open spaces to enhance the scale of their sound as well as the feelings of isolation that it evokes. Tracks like “The Cold Part”, “The Stars Are Projectors”, and “Dark Center of the Universe” embrace instrumentally lavish arrangements that ebb and flow elegantly. The beautiful acoustic guitar of “Gravity Rides Everything” perfectly complements the sense of splendor within the unfathomable world that Brock observes. These songs convey an aura of learned helplessness as we hear Brock ponder the ideas of fate and desolation. What makes it such a rich experience, however, is that the ideas of loneliness and apprehension are not pressed upon the listener by the band. Instead, they gradually materialize within the nuanced strata of sounds that the band harnesses.

There are plenty of quirky moments that attest to Modest Mouse’s distinctive ability to spark sheer energy. The unkempt bassline on “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and the uncompromising shouts on “A Different City” display Modest Mouse in a state of kinesis. Furthermore, Brock’s vocals are sharper than ever, rendering his introspections a wholesome treat to follow. And though, conceptually, Modest Mouse exudes an air of conspicuous vulnerability, aurally they’re strong and cogent. The crisp production only further highlights the band’s potent songwriting and instrumental sophistication. Modest Mouse is clearly making music from a passionate place.

The Moon & Antarctica also prides itself on variety. From the concise, folk-influenced “Wild Packs of Family Dogs” to the sluggish, but caustic “Perfect Disguise”, the album steadily glides through poignant soundscapes abound with lush melodies. Every single track lends something substantial to the big picture at hand. Perhaps the most powerful statement comes on “Lives”, in which Brock warns the audience not to live one’s life on someone else’s terms. Thought-provoking lyrics like “If I had a nickel for every damn dime I’d have half the time” seem to weigh the brevity of human life above material possessions. There are profound remarks aplenty throughout the record, and digging through Brock’s clever witticisms proves enormously satisfying.

The Moon & Antarctica is simply a treasure. Its immense replay value will always invite deeper interpretations, and its sonic quality proves intoxicating, even in its most dismal moments. In the end, The Moon & Antarctica is something truly unique, the kind of album that shows you what it feels like to hit rock bottom. However, it also reminds you that there still might be time to pull yourself up to the surface.

Favorite Tracks:
Lives
The Stars Are Projectors
Perfect Disguise
Gravity Rides Everything
Dark Center of the Universe



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4.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
jtswope
February 11th 2014


2154 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

http://mediasnobs.com/music-review/modest-mouse-moon-antarctica/

YoYoMancuso
February 11th 2014


11084 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

YES

album is flawless

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2014


50396 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you Based Justin Swope

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

Ryus
February 11th 2014


2528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I never really liked this album that much..................

WatchItExplode
February 11th 2014


3248 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album was pretty cool like 14 years ago...not much has changed.

thelastsignal
February 11th 2014


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Very nice review. This album will always be one of my favorites, but I think it's as close to objectively awesome as an album can be.

Veldin
February 11th 2014


1221 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

PEOPLE ARE MADE OF NOTHING BUT WATER AND SHIT

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Ending
February 11th 2014


1914 Comments


Such a great album.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
February 11th 2014


13139 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cool

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

YoYoMancuso
February 11th 2014


11084 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I never really liked this album that much.................."


why do you suck

Ryus
February 11th 2014


2528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Maybe it's because I never really liked this album that much

Ryus
February 13th 2014


2528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gave this another listen, I'm warming up to it

Ending
February 13th 2014


1914 Comments


It's at least a 4.0 if you ask me. I wouldn't 5.0 this but it's a very solid 4.0-4.5.

avonbarksdale221
February 26th 2014


8232 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review of an unbelievably good album, JS

jtswope
February 26th 2014


2154 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks avon. this never gets old.

thelastsignal
August 29th 2014


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Album rules. I have such a strong personal connection with this one.

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
August 29th 2014


971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best Modest Mouse, top album.

thelastsignal
August 29th 2014


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Definitely best Modest Mouse, although I love This is a Long Drive and The Lonesome Crowded West, among others. This one is in my top five albums ever.

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
August 29th 2014


971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've tried with Long Drive and its just too raw and messy, Lonesome seems great though.

thelastsignal
August 29th 2014


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Long Drive took a long time to get into for me. I was initially disappointed with it just because it was so chaotic and raw, but as I listened more it just ended up growing on me. "Dramamine" is one of my all-time favorite songs. It is really cool to see them embrace so many different sounds as time has passed while still being distinctive and easily identifiable.



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