Modest Mouse – No One’s First and You’re Last

Old friends are great things, most people seem to recognize. If that sounds weaselly, it’s because I just had a frustrating conversation with my roommate where he disagreed with my statement that “true friends are harder to find than people who’ll have sex with you,” but I think he was just in a bitter mood. Unless you’re some sort of sociopath, you realize the value in keeping around people that are like comfy sweaters, and you’ve had the rewarding experience of seeing someone from the past and realizing they’re with the present too.

Modest Mouse is an old friend to me. I hit peak MM at ages 22-23, when they had a capacious back catalogue for me to explore and explore it I did, until I never needed to hear “Neverending Math Equation” ever again. We weren’t friends because of riffs, we were friends because their gestalt rhymed with my dark, stupid soul.
I’m a sensitive guy, and I fail horribly at being stoic a good portion of the time. Here’s a few of the things that’ve made me nearly cry lately:

1. Talking to a therapist about how missing my (dead) mom still makes Christmas hard to get through (complete with her telling me to “suck it up”!)

2. My girlfriend being mad at me for being a little too willing to make female friends.

3. Forgetting someone’s name on the street and her obviously being peeved at me for it.

4. The sickening realization, for the 8000th time, that I’ll always be an emotionally damaged weirdo.

And that’s not even counting the endless despair I feel about factory farming, the suburbs, and parking lots! I have many good times, but I am at heart a serious man, and I get a similar feeling from Modest Mouse and Isaac Brock in particular, misguided as I might be. And from the first few jagged notes of this stopgap EP – eight songs, most of them previously released as B-sides or on soundtracks – I felt that familiar comfort of listening to a similar though infinitely more musically talented spirit. Hey, I don’t even know what most of these songs are about – except that one had a music video about whaling and that there’s another one called “The Whale Song” so I guess that’s two of them – but the off-kilter feeling of the guitars and vocals remind me that I’m not alone in my dissatisfaction and my conviction that it’s rather important, even if Mr. Brock is not as inwardly focused as I tend to be.

Of course, this all wouldn’t mean much if the songs were garbage, and they’re all just “pretty good” (except for the old B-side of “Float On,” “I’ve Got It All (Most),” which you can tell is execrable by its title alone), but hey, “pretty good” is good enough for me! Especially “King Rat” and “History Sticks To Your Feet” – them’s some good distortions!

So, this meeting with an old friend is more like meeting with an old friend and finding them to be…pretty good. No big adventures, no world-shaking epiphanies, no luculence into life’s mysteries, but hey, Modest Mouse is still out there, and probably about to release something really good again. Something that’ll do most of that. That’ll do, pig, in EP form. Been too long, Isaac.

7 / 10

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