Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Hi! I’m Penn and this is my partner Teller. There are a great number of myths in our culture, from ESP to endangered species to responsible government. On this show we expose those myths for the gobbledegook that they are by bringing in our team of reasonable experts to debunk the testimony of the wackjobs and liars on the other side. Plus, we show tits!

Now, sometimes those on the other side, the side of liars and hypocrites, get upset at us when our Cato Institute professionals are employed to uncover lies like recycling and second hand smoke. These ASSHOLES like to call us ideological corporate shills who misrepresent the positions of our opponents and rely on flashy ad hominem attacks instead of real arguments. They’re a bunch of ASSHOLES. (Random women making out) And now we’re really gonna piss them off! This next Pegasus has been a rallying cry of annoying feminists and whiny babies for what seems like centuries. It’s time to debunk it once and for all! RAPE is BULLSHIT!

(Credits. Teller, in a blonde wig, mimes being penetrated against his will) (Half an interview with a crazy radical feminist who claims that all sex is rape, cut off to call her an ASSHOLE.Teller mimes rubbing tears from his eyes. More random topless women make out with each other.) (Interview with a reasonable teacher who lost his job due to frivolous rape charge, uninterrupted and respectful) (Except of aforementioned woman saying “rape is no laughing matter.”) (Penn and Teller cut her off to dance around and make faces while singing “Na na na na na, we’re laughing at rape!”) (Interview with a Free Enterprise Institute lawyer (his past exile from the psychological community goes unmentioned) discussing game theory and how, evolutionarily, rape is quite normal in the animal kingdom, and many women only cry rape to not feel like sluts afterwards) (Penn and Teller visit the rape fetish community. Topless women make out with each other. Interview with a female rape fetishist about why she has this particular fetish.)

(Brief epithet-filled monologue) (Credits roll, our minds having been changed) Heyyy… Wait a second! But really, I just re-read Lolita and let me tell you, the last time I had sex with a twelve-year-old it wasn’t like that at all; there was way more screaming and crying and ahhhhh just kidding! This album is a huge departure from the ol’ Modest Mouse style! Few of the usual Modest Mouse elements, with mainly Isaac Brock’s voice, the clever, clever, depressing lyrics, and the penchant for curious guitar tones to hold it all together in a historical sense. What’s the deal with people saying “an historical” or pronouncing “Herb” and “‘erb” anyway? What are y’all, French? Why is this Modest Mouse album different from all prior Modest Mouse albums? You may have a series of questions, namely:

1. Why is it that on all other albums except the last one, the songs were barely produced once, but on this album they are produced all to hell? Probably because Modest Mouse had a lot of crazy ideas beyond continuous rambling tales of desolation, but it is strange to hear all the production going on. It’s not the orchestration of the last album; it’s more like a Flaming Lips album production-wise. Rapidly shifting guitar lines, swooshy sounds fading in and out of either speaker, drum machines filling up all the empty percussion space, sounds with eight million instruments, vocals bathed in filters. It’s quite odd really, but it’s necessary to make the songs work as well as they can, though you’ll miss the old guitars ‘n’ vocals ‘n’ rhythm w/ the occasional twangy space noise of yore. Plus, they could afford to.

2. Why is it that on all albums Isaac Brock is either singing in his inimitable lispy rasp or screaming at us, but on this album he only sings, except for like second during each chorus of “Bury Me With It” and “Dance Hall”? Anti-depressants is what Pitchfork suggests. I’d wager it’s more being able to come to terms with the resonant meaninglessness of existence (“The Good Times are Killing Me” makes it clear there’s been a lot of partying a-goin’ on). And some uppers.

3. Why is it that all other albums there’s a distinct theme, both musically and lyrically , but this album has none? Maybe they got tired of singing about desolation and stuff? Perhaps they just wanted to get more accessible; this is easily the quickest way into Modest Mouse’s catalog.

4. Why is it that all other Modest Mouse albums have either slow songs or fast songs, but this one has all sorts of craziness going on? Probably the aforementioned lack of theme. So there’s the usual couple songs about personal grief, in usual Modest Mouse-y ways (“The World At Large,” “One Chance”), but when taking on subjects they’re not used to, like a favourite poet (“Bukowski”) or Idon’tknowwhat (“Dance Hall”), it’s hard to see where they’d fit into MMs usual sprawling musical narrative.

The review page speaks of four sons, one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not know how to ask. Each of them phrases the question “Is this album any good?” in different ways. The wise son asks if the lyrics are as evocative and clever as other Modest Mouse releases. He should be told that yes, they generally are, though occasionally a little clumsy. “The World at Large” is a great sad self-reflecto, “Bukowski” contains both the line “Woke up this morning it seemed to me that every night turns out to be / A little bit more like Bukowski / And yeah I know he’s a pretty good read / But god who’d want to be such an asshole?” AND the line “If God controls the land and disease / And keeps a watchful eye on me / My problem is I can’t see / Who would want to be such a control freak?” “Bury Me With It” admonishes “Life handed us a paycheque / We said ‘we worked harder than this!'” And so on!

For the wicked son, with his stylish contemporary fashion, who asks only to see what this album means for him, he should be told that yes, this album should enrich his life in times of both happiness and sadness. If “One Chance” doesn’t give you pause, then you should go back to your Mozart, Nickelback, and Jackson Pollack.

To the simple son, who only wants to know if the songs are any fucking good, you should say “Usually. “The View,” the album’s mandatory disco-rocker, is maybe the best of them all, but mega-single “Float On” overcomes its lazy lyrics with an anthemic chorus, “Ocean Breathes Salty” is great once you realize how bitter it is, and the rest either have memorable melodies or clever enough lyrics to see them past the occasional overproduction and musical lulls. Note, however, that “Blame is on the Tetons” is a terrible country acoustic shit-a-thon, and “Black Cadillacs” tries too hard.

And for the son who does not know what to make of “This Devil’s Workday”, he should be told “I don’t know, I think Isaac thought he was Tom Waits or something.” I think a better title would have been “Good News For People Who Hate Niggers: They’re Stupid!” But you know what’s really funny? Rape!

8/10

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