Sound — 9
If you haven't heard Modest Mouse before but are intrigued, this is the album to buy. Modest Mouse is an unusual band, and it can be kind of hard to get into their music. Most of their other albums are not very accessible, and some of it is hard to even call music at all. While Good News For People Who Love Bad News is also a bit easier to get into, it's just not as good as The Moon & Antarctica. Modest Mouse kind of sounds like what would happen if you took some instruments and made sounds on them until something sounded good, and then someone really talented pasted them together into coherent songs but put weird twists on them just for fun. On this album the resulting melodies are easier to get to like. Isaac Brock's voice is used particularly effectively (and generally not annoyingly) here. It may get on your nerves, though. Here's roughly what the tracks are like: 01. 3rd Planet - flows along smoothly and sweetly (as much as Modest Mouse ever does), rather relaxing song and very good. 02. Gravity Rides Everything - was used in an advertisement, similar in feel to the first track but more of a strumming theme. 03. Dark Center Of The Universe - starts to get odd, moves between an ethereal, calm and twangy section and a chanted/screaming chorus. 04. Perfect Disguise - laid-back song, not much momentum. 05. Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes - driven by percussion and bass, with strange distorted vocals, a bit of respite from some normal-sounding guitar... definitely takes some time to get to like this one. 06. A Different City - first real rocking song on the album, with a focus on guitar and an excellent group-yell chorus. 07. The Cold Part - drawn out and melodic, mostly instrumental and heavy use of strings, effectively evokes an empty frozen land with it's echo. 08. Alone Down There - rocks like A Different City, starts off rather surreal, but then hits you with vocals and then breaks into a powerful guitar riff. 09. The Stars Are Projectors - epic song. Starts off sounding much like Pink Floyd, then flows smoothly into a melodic section, rises to a crescendo, tapers off into something softer, and rises a couple more times before gently fading out. 10. Wild Packs Of Family Dogs - quiet, folksy and very melody-based, with cowbells and accordion, very unusual lyrics though. 11. Paper Thin Walls - straightforward indie/alternative song, with discordant interludes. 12. I Came As A Rat - difficult song to describe, a focus on the vocals for the first half, and then meandering guitars against tambourine for the second half. 13. Lives - particularly weird for the first half, and then breaks into a cheery song with acoustic guitar and strings for a bit, then moves back into oddity. Both this and the previous track are difficult to get into. 14. Life Like Weeds - philosophical and back to a bit epic, relaxing, with a great ending where you can close your eyes and let the song pull you away 15. What People Are Made Of - final song on the album proper, and a rather angry one, distorted vocals and driving music, brings the album to a forceful conclusion.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics have the quality of space poetry, very offbeat and not quite connected with the everyday world. They're a little frightening with their exploration of anger, loneliness and misery, but also quite beautiful in their brushes by the very edges of the universe (try listening to this while looking at fractal pictures), and the evocative wording ("And right after I die the dogs start floating up towards the glowing sky"). Issac Brock is a genius.
Overall Impression — 8
This is a must have Modest Mouse, as they are at their most masterful as musicians. Other good ones to check out are Lonesome Crowded West, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, and Sappy Sucker. This album is highly underrated and deserves some praise. If you want to hear creative music, by all means buy this album. If you are into stereotypical radio hits, then don't buy this one. I love it and if I lost it, I would more than likely buy it again. If you do happen to pick it up, you will definately enjoy it.