Modest Mouse

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic)

Phases & Stages

Modest Mouse

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic)

Modest Mouse has pulled off the near impossible with its sixth full-length and third major label release: The Issaquah, Wash., sextet has managed to retain its edgy, proto-emo dynamics while availing itself of a more mainstream audience. Case in point: "Dashboard," the first single, is a solid pop song with mass appeal that still sports a sly fray. Meanwhile, "Parting of the Sensory" is pure Isaac Brockian strangeness, ending in a lisped, near a cappella chant that rattles the brainpan. This collection of genuinely great songs reflects a mutual respect between Brock and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, the bandleader's squiggly guitar lines and feral howl nicely complemented by the latter's chiming additions on rhythm and lead. Brock still writes of despair without going totally emo and also rocks the nautical theme without relying on art-school preciousness. The result is that We Were Dead sounds like Modest Mouse, only better. (Modest Mouse ups the body count at the Backyard, Wednesday, May 9.)

****

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