Modest Mouse — We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)

Modest Mouse are an unlikely success story–quirky band on a tiny label, gains a following, gets picked up on a large label, has a hit record, doesn’t alter sound too much in the process, still together after nearly 15 years.

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank–their fifth full-length album–shows the band tweaking their approach, if only slightly. While the lyrics are hued with nautical tones, the music is a juggling act between the radio-friendly (“Dashboard”), the challenging-yet-hummable (“Fire It Up”), and a few riveting tunes that might only appeal to the adventurous (“Spitting Venom”).

But even with the addition of legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to the line-up, We Were Dead… is missing a lot of bite. It’s a good album, with brine-soaked instrumentation and bluntly introspective lyrics. But as good as it is, the band could’ve done a little better.

–jp

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