Crude title aside, this is classic Modest Mouse. And since being tetchy and asocial is kind of Isaac Brock’s whole thing, persona-wise, the crude title just ties into the big picture anyway. Modest Mouse has always been music for the slightly maladjusted. Life might rub us the wrong way, and love might be incomprehensible, but we do love a good philosophical musing. There’s a balance between a studied persona of sustained grumpiness and deep-thinking, philosophy-struck intellectualism which is echoed by the musical contrast of aggressive near-atonal noise-rock and pop melodies verging on ethereal. Now that I think about it, everything about Modest Mouse is bi-polar like that. I guess that’s what’s kept them interesting for what’s turned out to be decades.
“We don’t belong here, we were just born here”
This kind of angst is exactly what we go to Modest Mouse for. Feeling slightly displaced in the world has been their grand theme from the beginning. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better with age, either. Lots of people who start out full of angst and fire mellow out over the years. Most do, in fact. Either because they genuinely become happier people, or because they realize that you can’t sell yourself as an angry young ‘un when you’re over 35. However, Isaac Brock appears to have a very real case of misanthropy that isn’t a posture and isn’t about to go away. Maybe there’s a middle-age slump on the way, some ill-advised attempts to stay relevant, a bad new haircut. Maybe he just needs to have a baby to make him see how life is a beautiful miracle and every moment is precious. Maybe ten years from now Modest Mouse will be a pastiche of themselves playing ‘The 2000’s Revue” in Las Vegas.
This weird little number is my favorite song from the new Modest Mouse album. It’s my favorite, obviously, because it’s the weirdest. Now, I loved the new Modest Mouse album. But I also heard the criticism that it wasn’t nearly weird enough. That’s a valid point; compared to their early work, it wasn’t very weird. It just sounds like a Modest Mouse album, of which there have been enough that we’ve become used to what Modest Mouse sounds like and are now desensitized to how weird the Modest Mouse sound really is even at their most radio friendly. When you delve into it, though, you may recall that Modest Mouse is actually one of the most gratifyingly weird bands to ever enjoy semi-mainstream success in this weirdness-averse godforsaken country. So basically, you gotta take your critical consensus with a grain of salt. Look at the big picture. Take in the broader context. And this song is just genuinely bizarre. Should’ve been, could’ve been the lead single. It would sell!
Oh, and by the way, does the name A. Cunanan ring a bell? It certainly does for me. Andrew Cunanan was the serial killer who murdered Gianni Versace.