Modest Mouse:

Strangers To Ourselves Album Review

Words: WBRU 
March 21, 2015

Strangers to Ourselves is the sixth studio album from Modest Mouse in a career spanning almost 20 years and the first since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.

A lot has changed – Band members have come and gone and we’ve all gotten a little older. But Modest Mouse ultimately does not disappoint.   The title track “Strangers to Ourselves” begins softly with the beat of the drums, the drone of an upright bass, and the faint clang of chimes, but it’s the cello that really gets the song going. This is how Modest Mouse greets us after 8 years. Isaac Brock’s vocals and somber lyrics are familiar. He draws out each word; even the way he says “that,” really hanging on the vowel, can give you goose bumps. It’s reminiscent of slower songs from their earlier work, such as “One Chance” from Modest Mouse’s biggest commercial success, the 2004 album Good News for People Who Love Bad News,or “Little Motel” from We Were Dead. “Coyotes” is another solid, more subdued track and it even won two segments of BRU’s Smash or Trash back in January. It even comes with an adorable music video that makes me wonder how hard it would be to get my own pet coyote.

There’s little return to the days of the early, grittier Modest Mouse. “Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami Fl, 1996)” is a confusing synth-rap song about the spree killer who murdered Versace. It sounds more like it belongs on Peaches’ The Teaches of Peaches than a Modest Mouse album. It’s unexpected and initially disorienting, but gets better after a few listens. “God is an Indian and You’re an Asshole” is a short track that that lacks the intricacy of the other songs on Strangers to Ourselves, but its stripped down quality transports us briefly back to the early days and reminds us of Modest Mouse’s Issaquah, Washington roots—and more thoughtful albums, like Building Nothing Out of Something and The Lonesome Crowded West.   The album’s first single, “Lampshades on Fire,” has been doing well on 12 Cuts Above the Rest and rightfully so: it’s a satisfying mash-up of everything we’ve come to expect from them—Brock’s wailing vocals accompanied by a frantically upbeat array of instruments.

Overall, the songs don’t have the same sort of sentimentality that we’ve heard in previous albums. The lyrics aren’t as raw or personal—with the exception of “Ansel,” a song about the last time Brock saw his brother. But there’s something that remains distinct to Modest Mouse, no matter how they’ve grown over the years. It’s great to have the name Modest Mouse buzzing around again and it’s definitely not time for them to stop.

Check out Strangers To Ourselves here︎︎︎ 






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