Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, Apr 10th, 2015

Modest Mouse: Strangers to Ourselves

modest mouseModest Mouse
Strangers to Ourselves
(Epic Records)

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The last time we heard from Modest Mouse was on 2009’s No One’s First and You’re Next, and that was technically a compilation of previously unreleased tracks. That means that Strangers to Ourselves is the first collection of new material by the band in 8 years. All I can say is, sure is nice having them back. Modest Mouse have always displayed an ability to branch out and try whatever they want while still maintaining a consistency that keeps their fans satisfied. Strangers to Ourselves is no exception. While it may not be another idiosyncratic masterpiece like Lonesome Crowded West, The Moon & Antarctica, or Good New For People Who Love Bad News, it’s still a Modest Mouse album through and through and it’s still really good.

On the whole, Strangers to Ourselves is fairly mellow. Isaac Brock, known for his mad bark, does some of his most melodic singing here. In fact, since Good News For People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse has put increasing focus on layered production and melody and this is just the next step. They make an impact, not with volume and distortion, but by creating and manipulating mood.

Of course they still have their pop sensibility. Without already knowing it you could guess that “Lampshades on Fire” was the first single, with its catchy dance beat and “bah bah bah’s.” Then you have “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box,” which sounds like some lost 12” from the ‘70s. It sounds like Talking Heads meets disco. It’s too catchy not to be a single, but too weird to be hit. Other oddities pop up all over the place, from the bizarre, faux hip-hop “Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996) to the campfire sing-along, “God is an Indian and You’re an Asshole.” While neither of these songs feel completely necessary, they give the album its character when mixed in with the pleasant indie-pop numbers. On top of all that, you get a couple of truly outstanding songs like “Sugar Boats” and the fantastic closer, “Of Course We Know.” If Modest Mouse is only remembered for one or two albums, this won’t be one of them. However, this sounds like an album by a band trying to build a long, full career. On Strangers to Ourselves they sound confident and sure of themselves and anything but modest.

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Modest Mouse: Strangers to Ourselves