We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Review

artist: Modest Mouse date: 03/28/2007 category: compact discs

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Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Release Date: Mar 20, 2007
Label: Epic Records
Genres: Rock, Indie Rock, College Rock
Number Of Tracks: 14
Modest Mouse proves once again that its keen sense of catchy riffs and witty lyrics are still dead on.
 Sound: 8.7
 Lyrics: 9.1
 Overall Impression: 9.2
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (9) 25 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Featured review by: UG Team, on march 28, 2007
4 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: If you're among the millions that heard Modest Mouse's single from the last album Float On and enjoyed it, then you will likely relish what you hear on the band's latest CD, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The record follows a bit of the same formula as Float On, taking what seem like straightforward songs and transforming them into something quite unique with various vocal styles and backup instrumentation. In the end, the latest offering is a collection of songs that has the ability to feel both familiar and fresh at the same time, and it should easily find a place in the college radio rotation.

The addition of Ex-Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr to the band has been a beneficial one. He is listed as a primary co-writer on We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, which does feature several tracks that have subtle, but very effective guitar elements. Marr and vocalist/guitarist Isaac Brock's work stand out immediately on tracks like Bukowski and Fly Trapped In A Jar feature an odd, almost off-key-sounding guitar part that comes across extremely cool and immediately draws you in.

The second track Dashboard is another interesting listen on the CD and not surprisingly was already released as the first single off the album. The song is an infectious with it's horn section, a funky little lick during the verse and chorus, and Brock sounding a bit like Talking Heads' frontman David Byrne. Brock's ability to go from sweet to awkward to powerful in his vocals has always a huge selling point for Modest Mouse's music and Dashboard represents some of his best work.

Fire It Up is a bit monotonous in its basic form, with certain lines being repeated several times over the course of the song. This is not to say that there is not anything unique going on underneath it all. Towards the end of the song, you'll hear chimes that sound like triangles and with the vocal tracks being played in rounds over each other, there is an eventual payoff. Plenty of the tracks do have this repeating form, but Modest Mouse still has an amazing ability to build momentum. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics are just as intriguing as the music on Modest Mouse's latest, and you can always be guaranteed at least a few pithy lines in each track. In Dashboard, there are lines galore that feature the witty lyrical content that Modest Mouse is known for dishing out. In one line Brock sings, Well, the windshield was broken but I love the fresh air y'know; The dashboard melted but we still have the radio. There is not talk about heartache, anger, or emotional agony, and it's a welcome change.

The band takes it even a step further away from the lyrical norm in Parting Of The Sensory. This track delves into an almost scientific world and you have to give Modest Mouse credit for attempting to throw in some unusual topics. Brock sings, Dehydrate back into minerals; A life long walk to the same exact spot; Carbon's anniversary; The parting of the sensory. The band has not just thrown a bunch of predictable rhyme schemes together, and it's enhanced all the more by Brock's manic delivery. // 9

Overall Impression: Modest Mouse is radio accessible with it's melodic, generally fun songs, but hopefully general audiences will be able to appreciate that there's much more going on beneath the catchy tunes. A word of warning: If you grew tired of the last album's Float On being overplayed, then you might not quite be ready to indulge in the 14 new tracks on We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. They generally do have the same feel as Float On and could be a little much to get through.

For those who didn't OD on Float On, the latest album is a worthwhile buy. I would dare say that at least half of the tracks you'll immediately find intriguing. The band has a keen sense of catchy riffs and they are scattered a bit of everywhere on the album. When you add that to Brock's wild vocals, the latest album makes for a fascinating listen. // 9

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overall: 8.7
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: PDMChubby, on march 28, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album is truly in the Modest Mouse spirit. Every aspect of this disc is on par with previous releases, and then some. The album starts off with the powerful vocal stylings of Isaac Brock in March Into The Sea, the catchy grooves of the single Dashboard, and the slow sounds of Fire It Up, setting the mood Modest Mouse is known for setting. The vocals are hard and rigid for an indie band, but, as you might already know, it works well. The guitar work is equal to previous works. The drums are powerful and meld perfectly with the music, as they tend to do. The album is a great choice for anyone who's had the privilege of enjoying Modest Mouse before. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics vary quite well. Isaac Brock has a strong voice, and when he uses its full potential, it makes good music. When he tones it down a bit, for instance, on Parting Of The Sensory and Fire It Up, it makes equal quality, if not better, sounding music. I admire his singing and songwriting talent. Sample lyrics include "Cut me down like the trees, like the lumber or weeds, drink me out of the sea, and then teach me to breathe" (March Into the Sea), "There's no work in walking in to fuel the talk, I would grab my shoes and then away I'd walk, through all the stubborn beauty I start at the dawn, until the sun had fully stopped" (Parting of the Sensory), and "I like the sailing teeming, well it's true that the moon could pull it back and far away from me, and there's the orphan sea, we were never invisible but that I guess we did not see" (Invisible). The words Brock writes feel like poetry, but he sings them in such a rough, original way that it makes them even better, and it's a huge part of the beautiful music that Modest Mouse produces. // 9

Overall Impression: It is in my opinion that Modest Mouse was grossly underrated before Good News..., however, I am satisfied people will enjoy it now, especially with this album. The tunes are catchy and smooth. The sounds of each song vary quite well, in guitar and vocal styles both, but in the end, they all sound amazingly similar. Modest Mouse has always been and will forever be original but the same in so many ways. It's fair to compare them to the likes of the Shins and Carbon Leaf, utilizing every tool they have to make good music that stands out. Favorite songs of mine include March Into the Sea, Florida, and We've Got Everything, but I can easily listen to the entire album without skipping around. If you're an indie fan, make sure to make this album a part of your collection. // 9

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overall: 8.7
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: TheAngryMob875, on may 01, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank has a sound no one else has achieved. With catchy riffs and key guitar hooks, Isaac Brock and Johnny Marr capture the perfect sound. On tracks like "Dashboard", "Missed the Boat", and "We've Got Everything", the guitar riffs immediatley draw you in. Modest Mouse can play one song softly, the next angry, and the next happy, and you would love each one. Modest Mouse have written some great guitar stuff here, and each member brings his own brilliant sound to the table. // 8

Lyrics: Isaac Brock has the ability to write unbelievable lyrics. Whether he is expressing some type of religious or anti-religious meaning (We've carried it all so well, as if we got a new position, and I'd laugh all the way to hell, saying "Yes, this is a fine promotion), Isaac can make you want to read and listen to his lyrics more and more with each song. These lyrics are anything but normal, which is exactly what draws you in. No one wants to hear the same old love and heartbreak lyrics. Isaac has moved on with this album, with the theme being Ships and Boats, and it is a great, great thing to listen to. // 9

Overall Impression: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is a truly wonderful album. It is nothing like anything I've ever bought before, and I feel as though I am truly missing out on some of their other albums. It is better than anything you will hear on the radio these days, and Modest Mouse is completely underrated. They do not get a lot of press or media. But so many people are missing out. If it was stolen, I would buy it again. And again. And then once more time. // 9

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overall: 8
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: rorythefaggot, on september 10, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well, well, well. So critically acclaimed US indie band Modest Mouse present us with a proper follow up to the quiet success of 2004's 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News'. And, as is always with Modest Mouse, I didn't know what to expect. And hiring up legendary ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and reuniting themselves with original drummer Jeremiah Green definitely contributed to the relative mystery surrounding the Washington-based group's fifth studio album. My first listen didn't immediately grip me, but in some ways I did expect this. The band have a frustratingly bittersweet sound, and I must warn new listeners that the music is never very easily passively listened to. A grower in every aspect, from Isaac Brock's viscious yet tuneful vocal delivery to the irregular guitar attacks of Brock and Peloso. Regardless of this, extended listening does reap rewards. Most tracks have a lush wall of instrumentation, and the occasional odd interludes compliment this perfectly, keeping things fresh while also maintaining a very accomplished sense of melody. At the top of their game, they sound like a more subdued and levelled version of the Pixies. Though not quite at the lofty heights of their 2000 indie classic 'The Moon & Antartica', they are clearly a band brimming with ideas but at the same time still hint their best is still to come. // 8

Lyrics: Isaac Brock's lyrics compliment the music perfectly, being distinctly odd in matter and composition, but still managing to throw out some extremely clever pieces of wordplay and satire. The highlights in terms of lyrical prowess in my opinion are primarily 'Missed the Boat' and 'Parting the Sensory', but I also like some of the lines in 'We've Got Everything', 'Education' and 'Spitting Venom'. Brock's songwriting is nothing less than superb most of the time, it really is something that needs to be heard to be believed. Like most of his bretheren in the wide genre of indie rock, Brock is no singer in the traditional sense. Though by no means as poor as Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel), for example, he does occasionally struggle. His clean singing far surpasses that of Mangum, however. He grasps the simple rules such as 'Always be sure whether you're going to go up or down at the end of a line' and is far from unpleasant to listen to. He does take some breaking in, however, a bit like Bob Dylan. Though Dylan couldn't deliver such a blistering display of vocals as in 'March Into the Sea', the opening track. He even manages some very nice vocals in 'Parting of the Sensory' and 'Little Motel'. Energetic but by no means fantastic. The lyrics make up for this, though. // 8

Overall Impression: When compared to the relatively tame releases swarming the indie market at the moment, Modest Mouse's latest is a refreshing break from the recent wave of lazy production and regional accents. Sharp, clean sounds throughout, as well as subtle touches just under the surface that reveal themselves upon the third or fourth listen. And although the music is never particularly easy on the ears, it does make for a very rewarding, and different, listen. My highlights from the album are the explosive and utterly brilliant opening track 'March Into the Sea', pleasant yet biting second single 'Missed the Boat', and mini-epic 'Parting of the Sensory'. Which ultimately gets my vote for 'Best Ever Song Using Geology as a Metaphor.' The album does hit the occasional sour note, however. Clocking in at over an hour and containing 14 tracks, it's no Ramones compilation. It also does drag a bit towards the end of the CD. The sprawling, 8-minute 'Spitting Venom' is one of the tracks on the record I often skip, as well as the baffling album closer 'Invisible'. But 2 out of 14 is still pretty good going. I would very strongly recommend investing in some Modest Mouse, as a very important band of the indie genre, and to sample the bizarre yet incredible songwriting of Isaac Brock. And there is no better place to start than this album, because, ironically enough, it's still their most accessible release to date. Make of that what you will. // 8

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overall: 9
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: unregistered, on october 29, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: First off, I'd like to state that this CD is not selling it. It's the band experimenting with their music. Sure, there is more pop tones in it, but it still retains everything that makes Modest Mouse unique. It's very different from their other albums in regards to sound; it is more cheerful and a lot less bitter. This isn't a good or bad thing, it's just different. They still have the twangy guitar riffs, killer vocals, and weird instrumentation (I'm not sure what half these instruments are called) but somehow they can pull it all into one album. Whether you're a new listener of the Mouse or have been with them from the first, I think this album is enjoyable though for some of their fans it will be hard to swallow. // 8

Lyrics: As usual, Isaac Brock has shown through once again. In my opinion he is the best songwriter I've ever heard. The lyrics are raw and powerful, yet refined. They can be interpreted so many different ways. Once again, he's pulled through with satire and cynicism & mixed with hopefulness. As far as the meaningfulness; every song has a different feeling behind it but somehow Brock manages to fit it all together, as usual. Definitely the most original indies album as of lately. // 10

Overall Impression: Modest Mouse has been my favorite band for 5 years. Though overall this album is good, it has some rough spots. I had a tough time coming to grips with their new sound; I'm still a bigger fan of their earlier stuff. But now I can see it as just musical developement. They deserve the publicity. The first song that struck me from this album was Little Motel. I never thought I'd hear Brock sing a slow love song (or say darling) and genuinely mean it. Spitting Venom is possibly the most lyrically genius relationship song I've heard (We carry in the groceries/While taking out the trash/And if this doesn't make us motionless then I don't know what can) and is definitely an underrated edition to the album. I still skip a few songs but they're all growing on me. Modest Mouse is an aquired taste, but if you listen to this album and dig a little deeper than the pop sound, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank should be a welcome addition to anyone's library. // 9

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overall: 9.7
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 23, 2007
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Isaac Brock has always been one of my very favorite experimental innovators for music. Since modest mouse released "This is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about" a bizzarre album down to it's very title, he and the band have stood out as a model for Alternative Indie music everywhere. With the last album "Good news for people who love bad news" Modest Mouse finally hit the mainstream as well as indie music. They sold more than 1.5 million copies and carry that success with them. On this new release the big question was, "Have they conformed? Is this just mainstream rock or is it still indie?" This album is indie at it's very very best. From song to song it is sometimes hardly recognizable as the same band. Brock pours in a strange shallow sound on the album's lead song "March inton the sea." They change immediately into a poppy upbeat song called "Dashboard". The album has everything from loud racous rock on "We've got everything." To a warm and sweet acoustic ballad "Missed the Boat." This album has better sound and variation between songs than any album since "Abbey Road" by the Beatles. // 10

Lyrics: "The dashboard melted but we still had the radio." Brock sings with a strange voice on "Dashboar." This is an example of the strange and almost impossible to understand lyrics that Brock loves pitching out. But don't let it fool you, Isaac Brock has a lot to say on this album. "Parting of the Sensory" is almost certainly a political jab at Bush's incapability of "Steering a Ship," or running a country. "We've got everything" is a hidden statement about how there is always more to know so don't ever get too arrogant. Brock has a lot to say on this album and he does it with metaphors, concealed ideals, and bizzare and almost insane muzzings. // 9

Overall Impression: No one since the Beatles have been able to create this connected, interesting, varied, brilliant, and beautiful of an album. "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank," is even more perfect than Radiohead's "Ok Computer." Albeit very different. "Dashboard," "Florida," "We've got Everything" "Education," and "Invisible" are some of the most brilliant songs on the album. There is virtually nothing to dislike on this entire album. Sometimes songs like "Spitting Venom" and "People like Places like People" seem a little monotonous and unenergetic but they are far from bad. I suggest that no matter what it takes, including robbing a bank, you scrounge up the money, and buy this album asap. It is something no indie music lover should live without. // 10

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overall: 9.7
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: Big_4, on july 01, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: "We Were Dead..." is much different from previous Modest Mouse albums as far as attitude goes, but their classic, passionate sound hasn't much lost steam. They have become more orchestrated, incorporating plenty of horns and synths as well as intricate riffs and and spastic vocals. "We Were Dead..." arguably sounds like the Talking Heads on speed; fast, furious, and incredibly entertaining. // 10

Lyrics: Isaac Brock's famous barking-style, Talking Headsish way of singing is constant here. He opens up with the cryptic, quite-loud "March Into The Sea" and goes into "Dashboard" with lots of intensity and surprisingly, optimism. Lyrics like "Well we scheme and we scheme but we always blow it/We've yet to crash but we still might as well enjoy it" show that perphaps Modest Mouse are beginning to see the bright side of life. The lyrics on "Spitting Venom," "Invisible," and "Missed The Boat" are impeccable. And the back up from James Mercer (The Shins) and other members of the band on "dashboard" and "We've Got Everything" are immensely entertaining. // 9

Overall Impression: The evolution of Modest Mouse's music seems to be constant and WWDBTSES is a prime example of this. New guitarist Johnny Marr (The Smiths) brings a lot to the table on this ocean-themed album, and from the awesome first three tracks (especially the thumping Dashboard) to the final racous that is "Invisible", we are swept up in a sea of horns, synths, effects, Balalaika, and James Mercer. The bizarre effects and the crooning back up vocals stay for this record, and Isaac Brock and co. keep the tunes at a nice pace and throw in plenty of surprises. As far as I'm concerned, the best Modest Mouse record to date and one of the best indie lp's since R.E.M.'s Murmur. "Spitting Venom" is an instant and epic classic and "Dashboard" is the best song of 2006. // 10

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overall: 9.7
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 01, 2007
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well I have been a fan of Modest Mouse for quite some time and was worreid when I heard they were comin out with a new album because there last one GNFPWLBN was kinda bad, but they surprised me. The guitar on this CD is very wierd and oringinal but if you don't know they have a new guitarsr Mr. Marr. Not quite familiar with his work but he brings some awesome guitar to the table with a solo here or there and some of the cathiest riffs (dashboard) I have ever heard. the sound overall is kind of poppy but they manage it sound poppy without taken away any of the elements that define Modest Mouse. As usual they whip out some wierd instruments that I don't know the names of so I can't tell you. // 9

Lyrics: The lyris are also very oringinal and comparers to nothin else out there today. Pure poetry. The lyrics make you take a deeper look into the song to understand of and I think that's how songs should be. For example "Was it ever worth it? Was there all that much to gain? We knew we missed the boat and already missed the plane" from "Missed The Boat". Basically I think that Issac's talkin about knowing that your gonna fail but wantin it so bad that even though you know in heart your gonna fail you still try to overcome the odd. And the way Issac sings the lyrics. Nobody sounds like him all put it that way. // 10

Overall Impression: Overall I thought this band was headed for disaster from their last CD but unlike most bands they managed to save their asses and come back strong as ever. This is one of the best albums out there today and my second favorite Modest Mouse CD (Long Drive bein my first). What I love about it is how beautiful the lyrics are never heard anything like them. One thing I think they could have done is make the bass a little stronger, you can only hear on like one song (fire it up) but other than that it's good. If it were stolen I'd buy it back, it's worth every penny. // 10

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overall: 8.7
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank Reviewed by: Swayver, on june 09, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: A great album by a very unique band. We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank is kind of a concept album in that every song usually has a reference to a story of a journey on a ship. Very unique and creative album from Modest Mouse that in my opinion is their best album to date. This is the bands first album with the addition of The Smith's guitarist Johhny Marr. He has a big influence on this album changing the bands original sound yet maintaining it and expanding it into something greater. // 8

Lyrics: Most songs on this album are about a crew that die on a ship. The lyrics generally follow that story line. Brock has a way of writing that is sorta similar to how Bob Dylan wrote lyrics, very vague and they seem to apply to multiple senarios in life. Really some good writing, and the storyline really makes you think about it. The lyrics and the music go well together. Modest Mouse has a way of making you feel every word, Brocks unique voice and stage presence really play into this. Brock has never really been known to be a great singer, but his voice is so unique and carries a lot of power that its really pleasent to listen to. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall I would probably put this as my favorite album by Modest Mouse. Johhny Marr does a great job in this band really making the music come to life, his riffs and melodies really get you into the song and makes you love it. Favorite songs on this album would include; Dashboard, Parting Of The Sensory, Little Motel, and Missed The Boat. Other great songs on this album too, most if not all are some of Modest Mouses best work yet. Definitely recommend this album, if your not a mouse fan or never have listened to them, give this album a shot. It can be very different for most people throwing them off, but listen and I promise you will enjoy it. // 9

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