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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 21, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Modest Mouse distinguishes itself from indie-rock peers

"Strangers to Ourselves"

Modest Mouse

After an eight-year hiatus, Modest Mouse released its sixth album, “Strangers to Ourselves,” on March 17. With this modern album, the indie-rock band out of Washington is re-entering the music scene, and it is coming back stronger than ever.

In the opening song and title track, “Strangers to Ourselves,” lead singer and songwriter Isaac Brock’s smooth voice introduces the theme of the rest of the album: detachment from the confusion and the meaning of our lives. “Strangers to Ourselves” sends a message to listeners that this band is still making mistakes and still has regrets, as all humans do. The other most noteworthy song from the album, “Lampshades on Fire,” uses an extended party metaphor to represent humanity’s inclination toward self-ruin and repeated mistakes. The catchy dance beat is reminiscent of singles off of Modest Mouse’s previous albums.

“Strangers to Ourselves” is more mainstream for Modest Mouse, being significantly different in both lyrics and music from its previous albums, which were more dismal and cynical in lyrics and aggressive in form. Older fans may be disappointed as the band strays from the classic edgy style of its previous albums, but Modest Mouse does manage to mix some of its old sound into these modern jams, enhancing its quality and likeability.

This album offers intense social commentary on humanity’s ignorance and greed in surprisingly uplifting melodies. The combination features dance beats, such as “Strangers to Ourselves” and “Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL, 1996).” In contrast, Modest Mouse also offers deep emotional ballads, such as “Ansel,” which Brock wrote after the death of his brother. Both techniques help to uplift the album’s theme.

With generally bubbly tunes, Modest Mouse’s newest 15 tracks manage to bring up these deep issues, such as ignorance of natural resource depletion in “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box” and humanity’s loss of dignity and obsession with destruction in “Lampshades on Fire.” This distinctive twist sets Modest Mouse apart from its indie-rock counterparts and helps produce an enjoyable album.

With some real winners and some other throwaway songs, Modest Mouse definitely gets its point across through intense lyrics and optimistic beats. After this long-awaited album release, Modest Mouse leaves listeners wanting more. As Brock asks in “Lampshades on Fire,” “This one’s done so where to now?”