Modest Mouse
Strangers to Ourselves



by humblerodent USER (29 Reviews)
March 17th, 2015 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lesser than the sum of its parts

The problem with “Strangers to Ourselves” isn’t in the quality of its tracks, but rather, the collection as a whole. In the past, Modest Mouse albums have had a uniting theme and sound to them. “This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About” was tied together by discordant noise and themes of loneliness. “The Lonesome Crowded West” was as loud and raucous as it was angry. “The Moon and Antarctica” contemplated the universe and death over brooding melodies. “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” was mostly composed of uplifting (well, for Modest Mouse) tunes and bittersweet lyrics. Even “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank” was, as accurately described by lead singer Isaac Brock, a "nautical balalaika carnival romp” throughout.

On those previous records, each track felt like it belonged next to its neighbors. Even if they weren’t quite concept albums, each work felt like a unified effort.

“Strangers to Ourselves,” on the other hand, feels more like a collection of tracks than a proper album. Perhaps that’s to be expected because they’ve had eight years to write this record and actually recorded enough songs to fill two albums during their recording sessions. Whatever the reason, the fact is this album is not nearly as thematic as their past releases.

That said, of the 15 individual tracks that make up “Strangers to Ourselves,” nearly all of them are superb.

The album begins on a somber note with a subdued title track, but quickly picks up the pace with first single, “Lampshades On Fire,” that rightfully earned its place atop the “World Modern Rock Top 30 Singles” chart with catchy “ba-ba-ba-ba-de-da’s” and intriguing guitars. From then on, the album veers from dark and brooding (“*** in Your Cut,” “Be Brave,” “Of Course We Know”), to frenetic (“The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box,” “Sugar Boats”) to pleasantly bizarre (“Pistol,” “God is an Indian and You’re an Asshole”).

However, the clear standout on the album comes toward the end with the introspective “The Tortoise and the Tourist” that tells tales of man choosing greed over knowledge to dissonant guitar riffs in a simultaneously damning and beautiful portrayal of human nature.

So, while the tracks on “Strangers to Ourselves” may not all conform to a similar aesthetic like past releases, each individual song -- with the exception of the over-polished “Wicked Campaign” that sounds like a sub-par Gotye B-side -- is a phenomenal experience in and of itself.

And, after eight years of waiting and a second album coming soon, 14 bonafide new pieces of music from indie rock’s unofficial kings is more than enough. Welcome back Modest Mouse, you’ve been sorely missed.

The verdict: The album as a whole may not be as strong as the songs that make it up, but the sheer quality of each individual track will allow most to overlook that slight.

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user ratings (655)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 17th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Originally published by The Daily of the University of Washington:

So happy there's finally new Modest Mouse

March 17th 2015


Nice work on the review, pos. Excited to check this one out, been on a Modest Mouse kick lately (more like ten years haha).

March 17th 2015


Album Rating: 2.5

humblerodent = modest mouse

how did i not get that until now

March 17th 2015


great review, pos.

March 17th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

@cryptside: Glad you liked it! I got into Modest Mouse like a year after We Were Dead came out, so it's been a long wait for truly new material.

@Tunaboy45: Thanks!

March 17th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good to see this. Excellent review, I too just understood your name.

March 18th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

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