Review Summary: Modest Mouse builds on the easily digestible pop anthems from their previous album and the more traditional, echoing yet spastic songs from their earlier releases.
Johnny Marr is probably one of the most influential guitarists of all time, even though most people outside of England or The Smiths' die-hard following don't even know who he is. Johnny Marr created the one-of-a-kind guitar sound and tone that made The Smiths such a hit; and the guitar sound Morrissey tried to replicate during his solo career. He has such a distinctive guitar tone and sound, and his distinctive guitar sound is a-plenty in Modest Mouse's latest release, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Taking a different path from the road-trip themed albums before it, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
has a distinctive nautical feel. The album also builds off of the hard-edged rhythm changes and sound changes from their commercial hit Good News For People Who Love Bad News
, while still reflecting on the slowing sounds and echoes of Modest Mouse's magnum opus, The Moon and Antarctica
. Modest Mouse is still at heart an indie rock band, but with each album they edge closer to becoming a traditional alternative rock band, as the raw feel of previous releases is slowly ironed out for a more dignified, ecletic feel. Its still filled with Modest Mouse oddities, such as Brock's voice, extreme rhythm changes, odd chorus structures, and catchy lyrics.
Plenty of songs on this album could have been massive hits, even though most have them have been looked over. This puzzles me because songs like Dashboard
are catchier, more fun, and just better than their massive hit Float On
. Even March into the Sea
should be a hit, the chorus is edgy, catchy, and just universally appealing. This album has the stuff to be Modest Mouse's newest most commercially successful album, but somehow its missed the mark. But maybe that's a good thing, because if they were superstars, the more traditional echoing, atmospheric Modest Mouse songs like Fly Trapped in a Jar
would probably go the way of the dinosaurs.
Issac Brock's unorthodox voice is just as present as ever; and takes over the music just like always. He sings in a lower, more traditional voice in songs like People as Places as People
and We've Got Everything
; and he breaks out his louder, more recognizable odd tone in March into the Sea
's chorus or in the verses to Florida
. His multitude of voices and styles work especially well in this album, and flows well with the style of the album.
The guitar work is impeccable and unique; just like always. Issac Brock's guitar work has always sounded like Marr's work; but now with Marr in the fold, their guitar work has taken a more realistic impression of The Smiths' guitar work, and at times the songs sound a lot like The Smiths with a different lead singer. This adds a lot of depth and variety to the music, and making the music which normally focuses on Brock's voice, a little more focused on the guitar work. The guitar work manages to feel rather nautical, and seems to paint a picture of the music better than any other Modest Mouse album.
Brock's traditional witty, funny, lyrical style is back, with the ever-present nautical feel of the album. Most of the songs are about being out at Sea, and he uses the word Sea plenty in this album. The lyrics work well with his unique and strange voice, and his overpowering of the instrumental work with his vocals makes the lyrics stand out. In my opinion, the up-beat yet solemn feel of the lyrics work impeccably well with this album's feel and style.
The infusion of the poppy-upbeat anthems like Dashboard
and We've Got Everything
work well with the more traditional odd Modest Mouse songs like Fly Trapped in a Jar
and Spitting Venom
. Modest Mouse is a band with many personalities and styles, and this album seems to have all of Modest Mouse's styles and vocals in an anthology of Modest Mouse's career. Honestly, this album comes in a close second to only The Moon and Antarctica
. Its not as poppy and varied as Good News For People Who Love Bad News
, yet not raw and undeveloped like The Lonesome Crowded West
. Modest Mouse has only hit their stride now and have began to shift into auto-drive and, albums like this divide steady, reliable bands from the sell-outs with the question of what will be produced next. Will Modest Mouse continue to keep their fans happy with their unique brand of sound and music, or build on the easy-listening anthems of Good News For People Who Love Bad News
" This can only be answered in time, but for now, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
will keep fans and new listeners happy for years to come with its infusion of radio-friendly poppy anthems and true-to-tradition rockers.
March into the Sea
Fly Trapped in a Jar