The Mouse That Roared
The cultural center of intelligent rock has shifted yet again, now to the city of Portland, Oregon where Modest Mouse are leading the crop of pantheon musicians. Once relegated to college radio, the indie rock band broke through to the mainstream with 2004 single â€šÃ„ÃºFloat On.â€šÃ„Ã¹ They struck gold again with a number one debut on Billboardâ€šÃ„Ã´s Top 200 with 2007 album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.The fourteen year-old band embarked on a major change with their fifth studio album by adding a legendary new member. Upon their Smiths-inspired guitarist Dann Gallucci quitting the band, lead singer Isaac Brock enlisted the real deal as his replacement. Virtuoso Smithsâ€šÃ„Ã´ guitarist Johnny Marr is now a full-fledged member of Modest Mouse. The guitarist has worked on eclectic projects over the years and has always played in service to the larger context of the songs, rather than imposing a grandiose or signature style. Chameleon Marr has blended nicely into the fold accentuating the Modest Mouse sound.
While the band may now have mainstream success they donâ€šÃ„Ã´t necessarily have a mainstream sound. Accordion, banjo, strings and off-kilter percussion are all part of the challenging quality of their music. The idiosyncratic and craggy singing voice of Brock suggests a complicated character. Freewheeling track â€šÃ„ÃºFloridaâ€šÃ„Ã¹ features Brockâ€šÃ„Ã´s aggressive, choppy vocal phrasing balanced with sweet and rousing backing vocals. The nautical theme of the album reflects a literary and adventurous flair. Single â€šÃ„ÃºDashboardâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a quirky reference to global warming with, â€šÃ„ÃºOh the dashboard melted/But we still have the radio.â€šÃ„Ã¹ There is a pensive quality to most songs, including lovely ballads â€šÃ„ÃºLittle Motelâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºMissed the Boat,â€šÃ„Ã¹ with a noteworthy guitar solo that replicates the delicacy, regret and pain of the lyrics.
Modest Mouse are the buccaneers of the music world plundering their own course. Sticking to their guns theyâ€šÃ„Ã´ve struck a chord with many people, ensuring they will â€šÃ„Ãºlaugh all the way to hell.â€šÃ„Ã¹