Punknews.org
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Cover Artwork)

Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even SankWe Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: AubinAubin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Perhaps the greatest thing about Modest Mouse -- and this has been blatantly clear since The Moon and Antartica -- is that you will never be able to complain that you've heard it before; not from this band, and certainly not from anyone else. Even though the band has sold more than a million records.
iTunes StoreAmazon


Perhaps the greatest thing about Modest Mouse -- and this has been blatantly clear since The Moon and Antartica -- is that you will never be able to complain that you've heard it before; not from this band, and certainly not from anyone else. Even though the band has sold more than a million records, recruited a former Smith, and has become an indie reference point for even the most mainstream of the mainstream, you can always count on Isaac Brock to baffle you with his constant left turns, bizarre arrangements and yet consistently memorable material.

At the root, Modest Mouse has always had its roots in the rich tradition of American indie rock: equals parts punk rock chest-beating, country-fried hooks, post-punk angularity and alternating moments of sarcasm and sincerity. The past five records have managed to create an encompassing catalogue of these sounds, never favoring one over the other, and often finding a way to elegantly combine them in each song. Like many of their peers -- particular their kindred spirits in Built to Spill -- it seems that they would forever be relegated to critical acclaim and quiet recognition, but Good News for People Who Love Bad News changed all that.

Now, on the heels of that 2004 breakthrough, the band has opted not for another sparkling single, but instead dug even deeper into that bag of sounds. Even the addition of a legend like Johnny Marr hasn't affected the band's disorienting and mesmerizing sound. His presence is certainly felt, particularly on the narrow bridges which populate the many tracks on We Were Dead: the arena-filling solo in "Fire It Up"; the bombast of "Parting of the Sensory"; or the ringing notes which kick off "Little Motel." Smiths fans will find the most comfort in "People as Places as People" and won't mind that their celibate Englishman has been replaced with a slightly ornery Midwesterner.

Granted, the first single, "Dashboard," with its heavy ska base and guitar bravado has the kind of easily accessible hooks and sing-along quality that engendered so much love for "Float On," and despite the fact that people might not find this as outright strange as Lonesome Crowded West, the slightly off-kilter melodic sense is still intact and wonderfully so. Compared to Good News, the album is certainly denser, stranger and less immediately inviting to traditional rock fans.

But that might be because following up a successful album is a tricky thing, particularly for an established act; some bands aim squarely at their roots, often purposely alienating the mainstream audience they've built (Green Day's Insomniac, the Offspring's Ixnay) and others cater even more forcefully towards their new fans (Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High) but finding a balance -- particularly when you have the kind of expansive, under-the-radar catalogue of Modest Mouse -- is a real challenge.

Thankfully, the band has found that precarious middle ground; We Were Dead is certainly closer to the band's drunken roots, but is among the most satisfying and inviting records they've made. Like a few other major label acts (the Flaming Lips, Mr. Bungle) Modest Mouse has always managed to succeed by bringing traditional music fans closer to their sound, rather than diluting their bite in the hopes of scoring another hit.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Alkaline Trio - GoddamnitRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldModest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad NewsThe Clash - London CallingNeutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The SeaAlkaline Trio - Maybe I'll Catch FireNOFX - The DeclineWeezer - Pinkerton

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
RoyalWithCheese (July 17, 2008)

Fantastic album. I just wish to see them live someday

mcgregor107 (May 25, 2007)

Good CD.
Word.

Anonymous (March 23, 2007)

jones for boners favorite band!

klonny (March 22, 2007)

Hrmmm...I'm gonna say it. If you don't like Modest Mouse, your taste in music sucks.

With that said, Little Motel is one of the best songs this band has ever recorded. One of the best songs ever, for that matter.

Anonymous (March 22, 2007)

i dont give a fuck about these shmucks. however, johnny fucking marr? goddam thats like the fat kid at your school fucking kate moss...unbelievable.

Anonymous (March 22, 2007)

"Will, have you read any of your own reviews?"

1) No, not really.

2) The reviews I wrote were about albums, not bands. No band is consistently flawless, I just chose to review the best albums by them. It would be different if I were to proclaim that everything Void ever recorded was brilliant beyond question (in fact, I think their unreleased Touch and Go record is hilariously bad).

-Will

Anonymous (March 22, 2007)

i wouldnt call Modest Mouse the pink floyd of our time... they remind me a lot more of the Pixies than anything else.

havent heard this yet, but want to.

Hey_Asshole (March 22, 2007)

also...kill whitey.

cunt rags

greg0rb (March 21, 2007)

Props on the review Aubin.

"Florida" totally owns and I love all of the James Mercer backup vocals in here. Time will tell if this tops Good News for me, but I like it a lot so far. I actually think it's less weird than Good News, less of the Tom Wait-ish scary vocals.
-Greg

Archangel (March 21, 2007)

Will, have you read any of your own reviews?

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

"Don't have it yet, but I know as well as everyone else who's listened to MM that they're brilliant and this will be no exception. There is absolutely no chance that this couldnt be good. None. 0. I will love this and I can't wait to get it."

Fanboys suck.

-Will

SuperRad (March 21, 2007)

Don't have it yet, but I know as well as everyone else who's listened to MM that they're brilliant and this will be no exception. There is absolutely no chance that this couldnt be good. None. 0. I will love this and I can't wait to get it.

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

such a solid disc.

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

this is a great review. and it's fair because it's also a great record.
-TOBB

epoch (March 21, 2007)

i like that one song, u know the one where its like "atmosphere lalala" i saw them on snl and the lead singer was so cute and fat and the band just didnt care about there close! u can tell they r real artists the way that indi guys wear tweed jackets and stuff, sooooo cool! yay!

then i herd the same song on teh radio when i wuz buying my new living room furniture and it made me buy this ugly brown peas of shit so i cud show every1 how little i care about my appaearnc and indie i am, keke

All indie sounds the fucking same.
Cut yourself.

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

This isn't a bad album, but its nowhere near as good as they're earlier work. I can't see myself playing this too often.

Also, Pink Floyd isn't that great. Up to Darkside of the Moon they're pretty good but the only album of theirs I consider essential is Piper At The Gates of Dawn.

MM is great but not even close to the greatness that is The Smiths.

Scruffy (March 21, 2007)

"i havent heard this and good news was ok. but i honestly think this band is the pink floyd of our time. You can't talk bad about them. Please listen to lonesome crowded west. They are easily one of the best rock bands of all time. Theyre better than the smiths. there i said it. And will im sure Public Enemy was not talking about bands like mm when they said that. the hype is very well deserved"

Do you actually see Pink Floyd as a band of such unassailable quality that no one can rightfully talk bad about them? They have good albums and bad albums, sure, but it's not like they're perfect.
Also, The Smiths blow MM out of the water any day of the week.
It's people like you saying things like that that make me want to say I hate Modest Mouse (I'm actually just indifferent to them) just for the reaction.

fritobandito (March 21, 2007)

I honestly just can't get into this band. never have been able to, have been trying on and off for years. *shrug* not my brand of indie rock, I suppose. dude's voice just bothers me somehow.

freesandwich (March 21, 2007)

Where is the Good Charlotte review?

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

better than larry arms and nofx.

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

This is almost identical to the Pitchfork review.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

i havent heard this and good news was ok. but i honestly think this band is the pink floyd of our time. You can't talk bad about them. Please listen to lonesome crowded west. They are easily one of the best rock bands of all time. Theyre better than the smiths. there i said it. And will im sure Public Enemy was not talking about bands like mm when they said that. the hype is very well deserved

phantasm (March 20, 2007)

i cant say ive heard this album. but i myself always thought these guys were VERY over rated.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

It is knife cuttingly good i guess?

nocigar (March 20, 2007)

and I wasn't mocking him for liking Common Rider, in fact, I own two of their albums. I was mocking him because of how he said this band sucks..even though they make music a fuckload more complicated and entertaining than the ska/reggae or whatever you want to call it mix that Common Rider plays.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

"ska" base...just because the guitar is funky doesn't mean it is a "ska" base. fucking nerds.

sweetsugarpezz (March 20, 2007)

yeah, plus millencolin has some great moments. pennybridge pioneers was ace.

nocigar (March 20, 2007)

I really didn't think user names ever meant much on here, maybe i missed something?

Scruffy (March 20, 2007)

What's funny is that Rolling Stone's review basically says it's still neurotic and whatnot, that that is getting boring over the past decade of albums, and that they should change.

Of course, we all know that Rolling Stone is a bastion of flawless rock journalism.

Scruffy (March 20, 2007)

"oh man, if this band sucked any harder, they would be a small black hole.

scientifically speaking, that comment is probably wrong...but the point remains valid. fuck this band.

says the guy who has Common Rider as a top rated album."

Dude, your name is a Millencolin reference. How are you mocking someone for liking Common Rider?

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

I love this band, have for years, but this album was a huge disappointment.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

it's a good album. i mean, modest mouse can be split into two bands really. modest mouse one being everything up to good news, when they were pretty moody and a little more raw.

then there is new MM, which is a creditable and pretty decent indie band, but they should not be compared to the old stuff because it's so different. the new MM are good, but the old stuff was something else.

leecorsoisapenis (March 20, 2007)

"why does everyone have to always fill jock every mediocre band that the music industry tells them to listen to?

I'm sorry, but when I got into this band, there was hardly a single person around who had heard of them, let alone tell me to listen to them. The mainstream music industry wouldn't touch these guys when "Lonesome Crowded West" came out.

Also, now having the lyrics in front of me, I find this album to be even more amazing then I had originally thought.

To the guy who asked if purchasing the "special edition" is worth it, I'm not sure. I bought it, and the casing and booklet are freaking beautiful, but I haven't seen the lower priced one. I wouldn't have gone for the cheaper one as nice as this looks.

Jim

iconoclast (March 20, 2007)

this band can do no wrong. great album.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

"This is the best band of our generation. Deal with it."

Hahaha, yeah right.

I mean, if people can get into this shit, cool, but why does everyone have to always fill jock every mediocre band that the music industry tells them to listen to? In the words of PE, "don't believe the hype, aight?"

-Will

colin (March 20, 2007)

The very fact that Colin hates this record makes me think that I am correct in thinking that it is very, very good.

so... you love fall out boy and don't like anything else modest mouse has ever done, i take it?

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

"i loved picking out the johnny marr lines in every song"

explain yourself ... i dont get it. he plays guitar. are you just saying this to sound cool ... please explain what the hell is going on

nocigar (March 20, 2007)

oh man, if this band sucked any harder, they would be a small black hole.

scientifically speaking, that comment is probably wrong...but the point remains valid. fuck this band.


says the guy who has Common Rider as a top rated album.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

The very fact that Colin hates this record makes me think that I am correct in thinking that it is very, very good.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

this record is incredible. I think the their best yet.

colinsociety (March 20, 2007)

really good review, great album. listened to it all the way through last night for the first time and i loved picking out the johnny marr lines in every song.

nocigar (March 20, 2007)

wow, this album is incredible.

colin (March 20, 2007)

scott;

while i realize people change and generally encourage it, modest mouse has a very... i'd say trademark sound that they've mastered over years and years. this album damn near completely abandons it in one fell swoop, and to become what?

if it weren't for brock's vocals it wouldn't be a modest mouse record. the music is generic indie pop, which songs begin and end obviously and abruptly, whereas their other records all feel cohesive, with songs blending together to form chapters of a bigger book.

maverick (March 20, 2007)

"what happened to the pensive and neurotic isaac brock that penned the moon and antarctica?"

Well, he saw that you had the market cornered on pensive and neurotic, so he decided to move on.

Seriously, though, your comment is pretty ridiculous. People change! Sorry if a dude isn't crazy enough for you anymore.

This record's pretty good, but I liked the last one more.

-Scott

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

I don't people are falling head over heels to say that Johnny Marr joined the band, but it's pretty clearly big news.

Johnny Marr was the guitarist in The Smiths, an absolutely legendary band that people go berserk over, and now he's just jumped in and joined a modern indie band that was already established without him, rather than remaining a mystery or doing his own thing, in which he was the focal point.

Given the fact that most (or at least many) lineup changes or additions are mentioned It's pretty damn noteworthy that a band of Modest Mouse's current stature just picked up a guitarist of Marr's historic stature. It's pretty big news.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

not a midwesterner. Come on.

ryannn (March 20, 2007)

yes i know, i screwed up in the numbering

ryannn (March 20, 2007)

Fantastic record, while the first half is really poppy the sec9nd half is absolutely amazing. I'd rank the second half up there with any of the bands past material.

I'd rank the albums like this:
1. Lonesome Crowded West
2. Building Nothing out of Something (not a "proper" album but it contains some of the bands best songs)
2.Moon and Antarctica
3. we were dead..
4. Long drive
5. good news

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

dont get em' -oldpunker-

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

This album doesn't live up to all the hype that it's created. I only like a few songs (2-3) from all that is offered.

A total disappoint for me since everyone talks about Modest Mouse being the next big thing.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

this band owns

sickboi (March 20, 2007)

I just can't get into this band. Does absolutely nothing for me.

albertfreddyingram (March 20, 2007)

Excuse my Ignorance to the Smiths and all, but what is the big deal about Marr joining this band???

I think this band is and would have been successful without his addition, so why are people focusing so much on the addition of a former Smiths dude?

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

best band. fuck the haters...go listen to fucking metallica you POSEURS!

colin (March 20, 2007)

this album blows compared to the rest of the band's catalog. it's a shame. what happened to the pensive and neurotic isaac brock that penned the moon and antarctica? the emotive and low key but equally neurotic and frenetic vocal styles of the past releases seemingly were abandoned for the sound of "bury me with it." listening to brock bark his vocals in the past was great because it was made with a point, a garnish on a much deeper and filling album. this seems empty by comparison, trashy pop indie rock, abandoning the very 'northwest' feeling of their old records.

a terrible letdown other than four songs (1, 3, 5, and 'spitting venom')

Hey_Asshole (March 20, 2007)

oh man, if this band sucked any harder, they would be a small black hole.

scientifically speaking, that comment is probably wrong...but the point remains valid. fuck this band.

punkinohio (March 20, 2007)

I bet johnny marr is realizing how lucky he was to have someone like morrissey make his music memorable. This is a waste of talent.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

where is the BIG D AND THE KIDS TABLE review?

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

i'm only a casual modest mouse listener (mostly lonesome crowded west), but i'm really enjoying this, particularly the parting of the sensory.

though i still can't wrap my head around the fact that johnny marr is in the band now.

dildonicsboy (March 20, 2007)

does anyone have any information about the deluxe edition. Is it worth 5 extra bucks. I'm a pretty big MM fan, I'm also pretty poor.

Also, does anyone know a cheaper place to buy the vinyl from other than the sony store?

Archangel (March 20, 2007)

This is the best band of our generation. Deal with it.

Exclusive Streams

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go