Modest mouse- We were dead before the ship even sank

Having been around for ages but only really entering most peoples consciousness after the 3 minute wonder of ‘Float on’ from last album ‘Good news for people who like bad news’ modest mouse return not only with a new album but a new guitar player in the shape of one ex-smith Mr.Johnny Marr. Blasting into a Fall like tirade on ‘march into the sea’ it isn’t really evident until second track ‘Dashboard’ (surely this albums ‘float on’) with its high pitched ‘the dashboard melted but we still had the radio’ with its jangly guitar. ‘fire it up’ sounds like Pavement covering an Arcade Fire song and is the first tune on the record to have a guitar solo, which breaks through the Verve like ghostly slide and tom waits style grunted words before falling again into the mix. You can hear the band experimenting with sounds on ‘Florida’ and it’s almost like they have taken lessons from ‘Granddaddy’ as bleeps and electronic squeaks sprinkle the background. There are times when the vocals sound like Bright Eyes ‘Parting of the sensory’ being a fine example, but at times at least three or four layered vocals of various styles can be heard at once almost giving the song rounds. There are so many parts to each individual piece influences just fly out at you and I could hear Guided by Voices, R.E.M, the Levellers, the Wondermints, the Beta Band, Talking Heads, the Cure and many more it’s a cacophony of style and sound. This is no more evident than on album highlight the eight and a half minute ‘Spitting venom’ which uses every trick at their disposal, it starts with an acoustic guitar and sparse lyrics before the band kick in a minute into the song and build up into a fury of electric guitars, half way through the brass section join and the build up begins again overlaying pianos and rhythmic vocals until it fades out on static and off beats. Adding a pinch of one of Britain’s best guitarists into an already heady mix of musicians had produced an album of such energy and enthusiasm, creativity and craftsmanship that I wouldn’t be surprised if others tried to copy. Having been a part of the alternative indie scene in America for sometime now this record sees them break free without losing some of the qualities that made us love them in the first place. Any more records like this and they will have to stop being so modest.

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