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Perspectives Details
Published:  June 14, 2004

Author Details
Author:  Donnie Jeter
Donnie Jeter is currently a student at the University of Oregon.
Review Of Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News
by Donnie Jeter
Only four years after releasing The Moon and Antarctica, their eye-opening masterpiece, Modest Mouse is back to release Good News for People Who Love Bad News. The only bad news is that their previous album, The Moon and Antarctica was so damn good that it would be almost impossible to follow it. It's almost like Radiohead having to follow OK COMPUTER: nearly impossible.

The album opens with "The World at Large," a song that displays everything we have come to expect from the band; you can almost hear frontman Brock popping the anti-depressants as we hear his raspy, preacher-like voice ring out. Following "The World at Large," Modest Mouse introduces an entirely unique sound in "Float On," a great contribution to the indie rock pantheon (save the fact that MTV is playing it). This song, which has been providing the band with notoriety unseen in previous years, is primarily made up of bouncy guitars and very inventive bass line. "Float On" is uncharacteristically optimistic, evoking an almost fist-pumping melody that encourages listeners to not worry when "things get too heavy."

The higher points of the album come in the likes of "Bukowski" and "Blame it on the Tetons." In these two tracks we see the beautiful contrast laid out in the album - the anxious, almost violent sound of "Bukowski" in comparison to "Blame it on the Tetons" a desolate, lonesome song.

In this new album Brock systematically approaches his own mortality. Many of the tracks hint at the concept of life and death. Brock's personal acceptance of his drug problems adds depth and weight to such allusions to death. In the final track, Modest Mouse teamed up with The Flaming Lips to produce "The Good Times are Killing Me" in which Brock goes on to say “Fed up with all that LSD/Need more sleep than coke or methamphetamines.”

Brock and the rest of the band slip with a couple of tracks - namely "The Devil's Workday." It comes off as contrived at best - almost a Tom Waits rip off. The lyrics are over-determined and are put against what sounds like elephants mating; musically, this track is lacking in every sense. Lyrically speaking, Good News does not have the same presence as The Moon. (However, when compared to The Moon most albums would look lyrically disinterested.) The Moon had a tone that held the entire album together - the fluidity and consistency of the desolate helped in binding the album, whereas Good News displays no such lyrical cohesion.

Regardless, we must recognize the fact that Modest Mouse has released four very long full-length albums. Through all this they have created a very unique sound and a cult following that would die before seeing them on MTV. To ask the band to follow up The Moon would be extremely unrealistic. Sure, Good News isn't as showily brilliant as The Moon but it is still an amazing album. And although there is no single true theme in Good News, Modest Mouse has yet again delivered another awesome record that explores the distinct sound that can only be defined as Modest Mouse. However, their future is still left undefined. It seems as of late, Modest Mouse has been tempted by the gods of big budget music industry; now a prime spin on MTV’s TRL and featured in a Pontiac commercial, Modest Mouse has seemingly given in to the “temptations” that come along with the music industry. Regardless, Modest Mouse is still making music their way, a quality most bands lose when national popularity comes knocking at their door.