Mar 25, 2007

We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank-Modest Mouse

In January, after many years of waiting, I finally saw Modest Mouse live in concert. I came away with mixed feelings. I was so excited to have witnessed the power and grace of Isaac Brock live and although I enjoyed the show something didn't quite sit well with me. I think upon reflection it was that the new songs just sounded uninspiring. Now I am glad that a song as catchy as "Float On" gave Modest Mouse the chance to reach a bigger audience but if "Dashboard" was "Float On" (mark II) then I wasn't very hopeful that a new album would live up to their enormous back catalogue. Plus the other songs weren't exactly setting my ears on fire.

So I have to say that I am very pleased to report that Modest Mouse haven't lost it and that "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank" is a very fine album that sits well within their body of work. I would even say that whilst it is no "Lonesome Crowded West" or "The Moon And Antarctica" it is more impressive I believe then "Good News For People Who Love Bad News". I think it has more depth and passion, whilst perhaps not having some of the more catchy tunes that their commercial breakthrough contained.

Immediately you know it is still classic Isaac when he spits out "If food needed pleasing you'd suck all the seasoning off!" at the beginning of "March Into The Sea". A snarling, fierce song it is a good introduction. Then comes "Dashboard". I still think this song is just plain cheesy. It might be one for the "Nova" crowd, but after many listens it almost has skip over quality for me. "Fire It Up" was one of the new ones I heard live and I must say it translates much better on record. It has that classic Modest Mouse guitar sound and Isaac's deadpan delivery still brings a smile to my face. The next four songs are the true heart of the album I believe. Whilst everyone knows the Johnny Marr story, a real plus to the album is that James Mercer of The Shins lends his graceful, melancholic vocals to 3 of these tracks. "Florida" and "Missed The Boat" are just great songs whilst "Parting of the Sensory" I think is close to the best track on the album. Starting slowly it builds to a really emotional climax. I love the line "Someday you will die somehow and somethings gonna steal your carbon", classic Brock. The next section is a little flat with a couple of good but not great songs, although "Little Motel" is a nice slow number that I think continues to grow on me and "Steam Engenius" I think would sound great live. Then "Spitting Venom" arrives, eight minutes of classic Modest Mouse. All anger and fiery passion it is an epic song, as fine a tune as the band has recorded. The album closes with "People As Places As People" and "Invisible", which we heard live back in January. Again they sound better on the album and provide a good closing to the record. So I believe, thankfully, the band has retained the ability to write passionate music with interesting lyrics and pulsating guitar lines. This will sit well in comparison to their past work and in turn will become one of my favourite records to be released in 2007.
MP3: Spitting Venom
MP3: Missed the Boat
MP3: People As Places As People


  • At March 26, 2007 , Anonymous Sean said...

    I think Little Motel is brilliant. I still need to give the album a few more spins before I decide how I feel about it though.

    Great review!


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