Modest Mouse have released their first album in eight years and the alternative music scene has lost its mind. Whether for the right reasons or not, this really is the kind of album you need to listen to for yourself and decide.
If you’re already a fan of the band, chances are you’ll find the album a little underwhelming. Despite this overarching anti-climatic feel, diehards will still be happy because the album at its core carries with it the classic Modest Mouse sound that we’ve had to live the past eight years without.
If this is the first you’re hearing of the band, then the title track “Lampshades On Fire” will definitely be the most palatable. It’s a catchy tune that epitomises the band’s alt-rock style and has proven pretty popular in the mainstream markets. “Coyotes” is another standout worth listening to, bearing similarities to one of the band’s biggest hits, “The World At Large”. It has a cool melancholy about it that just ebbs and flows in all the right places. “Pistol” also deserves a special mention, if only to draw your attention to just how great such a manic, disjointed piece of music can be. It’s exactly what you would expect from frontman Isaac Brock, and is an arrangement that will perplex you, while simultaneously blowing your mind.
On a not-so-positive note, the struggles the band faced creating the album are at times apparent. Every now and then, the “effortless cool” of it all feels a little stunted and forced. The labour that went into it was confirmed in a recent interview where Brock told media that the eight-year ordeal just about drove him to bankruptcy, a hefty price to pay for that just right sound.
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Modest Mouse may never release anything better than The Moon and Antarctica or The Lonesome Crowded West, but Strangers to Ourselves is certainly a step in the right direction. If you’ve been with the band for years, you’ll be happy to hear something fresh. On the contrary, if you’re a first-time listener, I recommend having a flick through their back catalogue to help give the new release a little more context. At the end of the day, it rings true to their sound and will definitely keep fans happy until their next album comes along, which Brock has confirmed will be churned out “as soon as legally possible”.