Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Ding!  We have a winner.  We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is one of the best CDs I’ve heard this year.  Actually, we have two winners.  We have really been enjoying the previous CD reviewed here, Aterciopelados’ “Oye“.  Two terrific CDs in a row.  Good times.modest mouse

Modest Mouse began their career as lo-fi indie darlings playing hyper-energetic guitar rock featuring tortured lyrics and idiosyncratic song structure.  They began moving in a more radio-friendly direction with their previous album “Good News for People Who Love Bad News”.  That move continues on “We Were Dead . . .” which has produced the expected howls of dismay from people who love music only if they believe no on else will like it.  Isaac Brock (vocals, guitar, lyrics) has said that he wanted to make an album that would be more accessible both in terms of musical style and availability at retail outlets that don’t typically stock small niche bands.  I think the band pretty much nailed it.  “We Were Dead . . .” masterfully blends accessibilty and oddity with the result that you have a CD which will never be mistaken for typical radio fare and which also invites people to listen.

Guitar player Johnny Marr (The Smiths) joined the band for this CD and Brock approached “We Were Dead . . .” differently from Modest Mouse’s prior CDs.  In the past, he would come in with the songs fairly well worked out beforehand and would tell the band what he wanted.  For “We Were Dead . . .” he wrote lyrics but the music was produced much more democratically than in the past.  It worked.  Atypical song structures are melded with verse-chorus-verse segments and melody and hooks abound.  Brock has a voice that may take some getting used to but he sings in several different vocal styles which allows a listener who may find one or another of his “voices” unpleasant to adapt to it as she hears the same singer sing differently.  The album is very cleanly recorded so that neatly layered bits and pieces come to attention with repeated listening.  Also, Brock and Marr’s guitar interaction is consistently interesting as the recording makes each easy to distinguish and neither seems concerned to demonstrate their technique at the expense of the song.  Finally, the album is nicely sequenced so you never feel like you’re just hearing more of the same and at about 62.5 mins it’s over too quickly.  Recommended.

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04/12/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music

1 Comment »

  1. […] pop which had made the band famous.  He joined Modest Mouse for last year’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank“, one of the best albums of the year thanks in no small part to his […]

    Pingback by Review: The Smiths, Singles « Tuned In To Music | 02/14/2008 | Reply


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