Modest Mouse

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Modest Mouse

Good News for People Who Love Bad News (Epic) Good news for people who worried that the departure of drummer Jeremiah Green would torpedo Modest Mouse's sound: You can rest easy. While replacement Benjamin Weikel is less busy than Green, he injects a distinct personality into his simpler, sinewy timekeeping. The Washington staters also welcome back original guitarist Dann Gallucci, who helps flesh out the muscular, searching sound of the now-quartet on this, their strongest LP to date. Eschewing the flabby, experimental jams that populated The Moon & Antarctica (2000), Modest Mouse has opted to get in and get out with their sometimes disturbing, sometimes whimsical meditations on death and being. Good News finds Isaac Brock not just a poet, but a philosopher as well, albeit one who relies on scatological and often violent imagery. "The Devil's Workday," which also features jangling horn accompaniment from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, takes an entire chapter out of Tom Waits' book, sonically, and is narrated by a misanthrope of monumental proportions. "All those people you know floating in the river are logs," Brock growls before proclaiming, "I am my own damn god!" Appropriately, this is punctuated with maniacal laughter. But Brock isn't a total monster, as revealed on "Bukowski," in which he muses, "Yeah I know he's a pretty good read, but God who'd want to be such an asshole?" No bad news here, just more headline-making from an innovative, ever-maturing group of musicians.

***.5    

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