Modest Mouse Building Nothing out of Something (Up)
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., Jan. 21, 2000
Building Nothing out of Something (Up)Whether to keep a budding fan base interested between 97's outstanding Lonesome Crowded West and whatever awaits us from their anticipated major-label outing, or simply to fulfill contract obligations with Northwest indie label Up, Issaquah, Washington's Modest Mouse continue buttressing their small canon, this time Building Nothing out of Something, a collection of singles and unreleased material off their Interstate 8 EP. Like all their releases, Nothing is all over the place, caught in the rain on a long and empty highway somewhere, barreling headlong into that bleak unknown. This album groans with all the anger and frustration that makes Modest Mouse music seething and great, somehow planting minor seeds of hope ("Interstate 8," "All Nite Diner") within the vast expanses of society's wreckage ("Workin' on Leavin' the Livin'," "Baby Blue Sedan," "Positive Negative"). There's no denying Isaac Brock's talent for great riffs and instincts for songwriting, and there are some instant classics here, like the inordinately fun "Never Ending Math Equation" and the galloping "A Life of Arctic Sounds." If nothing else, this collection will further cauterize Modest Mouse's schizophrenia, pasting together a disjointed parade of frayed rock songs into an album nearly as compact and solid as any of theirs to date.