Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica

Oh boy, from “The Lonesome Crowded West” to now “The Moon and Antarctica.” How much do you think you’d have to pay each member of Modest Mouse to title their next album “Disneyland and Sunshinevillle”? Thirty thousand dollars? $50,000? One hundred thousand dollars? Well?

Haha! Trick question! They’re already made their next album! Stupid! Stupid stupid! I’m smart and talented and you’re stupid and stupid, stupid! Haha! Dumb dumb dumb! I’m smarter than you are dumb dumb dumb and not me I’m smart I’m smart, stupid! Like the economy, that’s what Bill Clinton said! Haha! “It’s the stupid economy!” I’m going o

So many strings? No matter, but it’s somewhat sad to see Modest Mouse maturing so much, incorporating all sorts of “lush” instruments and ruminating all serious-like about the afterlife. It was certainly more fun hearing the disgust and din of earlier, inaccessible, screamin’ and a-meanderin’ classics, and a lot of the songs on here are pretty vacant and inconsequential, especially around the middle of the album. “A Different City” through to the nine-minute “The Stars Are Projectors” are pretty forgettable. Thankfully, in the case of the awful “Alone Down There.” And what’s the deal with all the twangy “space” noises, previously only heard at the start of “Dramamine”? They’re never any help, and they bloody ruin the otherwise-horrifying (in a good way) “Lives.”

No matter, the first five songs are among the best they’ve ever done. “3rd Planet” is maybe the first Modest Mouse song you should ever listen to, shifting effortlessly from catchy acoustic pickins to mid-tempo reflectorama and back again repeatedly, matching lyrical shift from heartbreaking “your heart felt good / it was dripping pitch and made of wood” (with the appropriate vowels dragged out) to the super clever and surprisingly deep “The universe is shaped exactly like the Earth / If you go straight along enough you’ll end up where you were,” and “The third planet is sure they’re being watched / By an eye in the eye that can’t be stopped / When you get to the promised land / You’re gonna shake that eye’s hand.” Then “Gravity Rides Everything” is wonderful swooshy pop with a nerdy title, “Dark Center of the Universe” is a great wittle cynical song with a unique trilly guitar riff, “A Perfect Disguise” is downright sobering, and then “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” is practically a disco song (if disco was all hopeless and shit) that feels like driving over the speed limit in burning heat, plus with a bouncy, foreboding bass line and more super clever lyrics.

No matter, the last six songs are…pretty good. “Wild Pack of Family Dogs” is a total winner, and the last one would be great anger if not for the silly “water and shit” line at the end. Plus “Life Like Weeds” is their worst 6:30 long song ever.

Here are some sample happy lyrics:

“Everyone’s afraid of their own life / If you could be anything you want I bet you’d be disappointed am I right / No one really knows the ones they love / If you knew everything they thought I bet you’d wish they’d just shut up.”

And so on! They’re terrific at marrying words and verse to beat and tempo, and always sad and who likes happy people, but right now I’m too upset over:

1. I’m almost twenty-four and still can’t even hold together remember dentist appointments.
2. I have no job and no prospects on the horizon. All of my friends are at least planning something for fucking out loud.
3. I can never remember who people are. Not even my cousin, from Saturday night. What the hell?
4. I can’t make simple phone calls or send basic emails. Weird anxiety paralyzes me.

DO buy the remastered version of this album though! Sounds way better! The bonus tracks are trash, though. We do not need worse versions of three album tracks plus an instrumental reimagining of “Custom Concern” as a happy song. Forget they exist!

8/10

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