December 6, 2001

Ed's Underground: Modest Mouse

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A 15 song epic, this album ranks as Modest Mouse’s defining moment. With roaring guitars, wild 360-degree mood changes, and 70 minutes of diverse musical pleasures, this disc provides something for every indie rock fan.

“Lounge (Closing Time)” is a jumpy rocker that perfectly showcases Isaac Brock’s Pixies-inspired vocals and absurd lyrics. On “Trailer Trash,” the band shows another side with melodic guitars and an oddly emotional narrative on the white-trash lifestyle. But Modest Mouse never sits still in one style for long, and the entire CD finds them hopping from genre to genre with ease — but somehow, the entire album still holds together as a coherent effort.

“Jesus Christ was an Only Child” mixes down-home fiddle with a forceful guitar line for a twisted take on the typical country song. But with the 10-minute “Truckers Atlas,” the album really finds its stride. The band proves they’re best at crafting massive, Neil Young-ish feedback constructions. “Truckers Atlas” is the perfect travelling song — its roaring riffs and in-your-face vocals are grounded by one of the most memorable rhythms I’ve heard in a long time.

The 2-part closing track “Styrofoam Boots/It’s All Nice on Ice, Alright” demonstrates the band’s more out-there tendencies. The first part is a rambling stream-of-consciousness folk song reminiscent of some of Bob Dylan’s 60’s output: “He moved like Crisco disco/ breath 100% Listerine/ He says looking at something else/ but directing everything to me:/ ‘every time anyone gets on their knees to pray/ well it makes my telephone ring’/ and I’ll be damned.” On the second part, rapid drums kick in for a cathartic jam.

For those seeking something new and endlessly engaging, Modest Mouse’s unique brand of rock never fails to satisfy.

Archived article by Ed Howard