Modest Mouse – Building Nothing Out Of Something

I was going to do my long-planned hilarious Penn and & Teller’s “Bullshit!” impression in this space, but this album is just too good to waste by spending two thirds of the “review” rambling sarcastically.

So! This album is a compilation of non-album singles (A-sides and B-sides) and songs from Interstate 8, and surprise, it actually sounds like a coherent, concise artistic statement about introversion, misery, sadness, hopelessness, nostalgia, and loss. You can tell they know it, too, because of the album title. Nice “self-deprecating” title, you pricks.

Oh sure, you know all about “Interstate 8”, the song a leading critic once described as “a somewhat overrated, but still rather good swooshy highway song that doesn’t nail their usual Modest Mouse desolation as well as many of their other early songs,” and the famous description of “All Night Diner” as “a scratchy, catchy song with oddly sexual lyrics (including dismissing talk of premature ejaculation with “better things to do so I’ll start drinking”) that does absolutely nothing interesting for its last two minutes,” and everybody from King Zog to Enver Hoxha remembers that “Sleepwalking” is a “woozy, breathtaking nostalgia-song that steals a Bobby Darin melody,” and it appears on “Building Nothing From Something,” but think of the rest!

Think of “Never Ending Math Equation,” the propulsive and catchy pop song that goes “The universe works on a math equation that never even ever really even ends in the end / Infinity spirals out creation / We’re on the tips of its tongues and it is saying…” in the chorus! The nostalgic, lonely “Baby Blue Sedan” which is the saddest recollection of sex in a car you’ll ever hear! “Workin’ On Leavin’ The Livin'” with its one minute of verse about alcoholism, then six minutes of repeating the line from “In Heaven” (like the PIxies!) over horrifying sad two-notin’! Or “Broke,” their first single, which is also very good. And the rest of the good songs! There’s not a loser among them!

Except maybe “Medication,” but I can tolerate that. Also, the last two songs aren’t that speshul. And there’s a (really good) song called “A Life of Artic Sounds.” It’s spelled “Arctic” you dumb shit. Review over!



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