Modest Mouse is one of those bands that your brother probably listened to as he drove you to karate practice in his Rav4 that reeked of cigarettes and teenage angst. They’re an odd band, whose lead singer Isaac Brock possesses a voice that isn’t beautiful, far reaching or breathtaking. The music is sometimes just total chaos, reigned in by the straining chainlink fence of Brock’s vocals.
It’s sort of like riding a wooden roller coaster. The ride is unlike anything else, and you feel that at any moment you and the coaster will go careening off of the trails and the world will turn upside down, the rivers will run red with blood and the four horsemen will parade through the streets. It
doesn’t hasn’t yet, but you just always feel like it could.
Their songs are deeply symbolic. Much of their early work featured more instrumental than lyrical content, a habit they’ve reversed in their more recent albums. You get a deep sense of bitterness from Modest Mouse, toward religion, people, society.
Perhaps my favorite Modest Mouse song is “Talkin’ Shit on a Pretty Sunset,” which is from their 1996 album, This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Talk About. It perfectly captures early Modest Mouse: symbolism, instrumentals, Brock’s sad but often powerful voice punching through the group’s chaotically coherent instruments.
I can listen to this song on repeat for hours. The point where the soft instrumentals dim momentarily and Brock’s voice comes through so clearly, there’s so much emotion underneath it. It’s bitter and it’s contained.
Modest Mouse is releasing their first album in years this spring, hypothetically. Their music has evolved, naturally, as time has gone by. I can’t waaaait.