Full disclosure: I'm not much of a Modest Mouse fan. (I like The Lonesome Crowded West and The Moon & Antarctica well enough, but if you asked me to name one song off either album, I'd probably fail.) The gentler, strings-laden sound on Sharpen Your Teeth--the only album released by Isaac Brock's side project, Ugly Casanova--was more my speed. With Brock's trademark voice front and center, Ugly Casanova naturally resembled Modest Mouse, but only modestly so. The band's music felt simpler; there was more rhythm and bounce but less chaos and confusion.
When Brock debuted a new Ugly Casanova song ("Here's to Now") a few weeks ago, it had that same energy as the band's 2002 debut. It felt fresh and different. But the latest Ugly Casanova song, "Lay Me Down," is a little unsatisfying. The instrumentation is smart, with a subtle trumpet and bare-bones percussion, but the song it descends to Modest Mouse-styled yelping and wailing too quickly, detracting from its natural rhythm. I guess that's the side effect of eight years between projects and touring on two hugely successful records: it might be harder for Brock to break free from a well-worn mold.