Friday, February 16, 2007

The ship sank because it was leaking

When you trade in spitfire and vitriol, you can only howl at the moon for so long before it stops seeming authentic and starts to feel like an act. Even Howard Beale's ratings eventually fell in "Network."

Considering Modest Mouse's newfound success, the expectations that come with adding Smiths guitarist/golden idol Johnny Marr — hell, "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" is a bloated title even for a Modest Mouse record — all signs pointed to an overblown letdown of a new album.

The record leaked earlier this week and, on first listen, it's promising. It still sounds more like their star-making "Good News for People Who Love Bad News," where the fast songs are the fast songs and the slow songs are the slow songs, than their older, more experimental albums that combined the two. But they're not going to make another "Lonesome Crowded West" just the same way that Death Cab is not going to make another "We Have the Facts" and the Shins didn't make another "Oh, Inverted World."

Marr seems to add just the right spark to a band entering its second decade, and Issac Brock continues to find some dark unmined crevices of his brain for lyrical inspiration.

That said, this album isn't likely to win over anybody who gets annoyed by Brock and his band. But for Modest Mouse fans, who would have thought that a band that once screamed "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day that I cannot sleep away" would make an album that sounds so ... comforting and familiar?

The album comes out March 20. Here's a couple of tracks:
Modest Mouse — Florida (feat. James Mercer of The Shins) (MP3)
Modest Mouse — Spitting Venom (MP3)
The album's first single, "Dashboard" is on the Modest Mouse Myspace

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