Archive for the ‘modest mouse’ Category

My Favorite Things by Bethany Wall

February 25, 2008

Sometimes all I need is music I can think to. Often, a single song is my weekly, incessantly repeated thought process. This song is not what helps me get through the week, nor do I think music should; but it is a way to think my own thoughts along with someone else’s words and music. In fact, it is mostly the music of this week’s song, “the World at Large” by Modest Mouse, that encourage my thoughts — but the words evoke their own response as well.Even when I’m not listening to this song, it still floats in my head, starting with a simple guitar pattern and a soft drum beat, adding a xylophone and then a flute; it’s simple, yet it causes an emotional, melancholy sense of yearning. Every time I listened to this song this week, I slowed down and thought with the music. After awhile, I started listening to the words. It could completely depress a person, interpreting lyrics like “I like songs about drifters … why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?” as being misunderstood and struggling against the world. But to me, the lines “If the world’s at large, why should I remain?” and “Walked away to another plan. Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand” are about seeking change — wanting more out of life, yearning to see the world and fighting against the undertow to do so. The beat of the song, along with the words “float on,” give it a consistency, like moving forward, moving away from normality. I often want to do more with my life, and as much as I tell people that I’m just fine, the mantra of this song spins in my head: “My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.”

-Bethany Wall

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

March 22, 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.