At Sasquatch! Festival this weekend, veteran NW indie howlers and recent Big Boi collaborators Modest Mouse debuted a couple of new songs, soundboard recordings of>"/>
At Sasquatch! Festival this weekend, veteran NW indie howlers and recent Big Boi collaborators Modest Mouse debuted a couple of new songs, soundboard recordings of which are rapidly making the blog rounds right now. Typically, what's not making the rounds along with the YouTube embeds are any sort of critical evaluations of the new songs, not even the faintest praise or single word of critique. Which, fine, whatever. But, hey, if reading words about music while you listen to the music being discussed is your kind of old-timey thing, here are some brief reactions to these two new jams.
So "Poison" finds Isaac Brock and co. kicking it in their well-worn disco mode (see also "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes," the back halves of "Tundra/Desert" and "Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice," etc, etc.), Brock barking about pushing around, a hot-edged little guitar riff breaking out for the chorus. "Lampshades on Fire," with its gently bobbing "ba-ba-ba-ba-ba"s ,rehashes a bit of the sing-along buoyancy of "Float On" and its ilk. Both feel pretty loosely sketched at this stage (although the great thing about Modest Mouse's live shows has long been how loose and sketchy they can render even their long-established songs), kind of jamming out toward the end even though they barely hit the three-minute mark.
These songs are fine, I guess, but honestly, this is sort of why I didn't mind missing these guys (and, similarly, Death Cab) this weekend: If you've been following Modest Mouse for the long drive, it can be hard not to feel like they're running on fumes.
Not to be all "I was there!" about it, but growing up with a band can be hard. You change in different directions, that sort of thing. Or one of you changes and one of you stays stubbornly the same. (Hard to tell sometimes.) So it's hard to reconcile the Modest Mouse I fell in love with in high school--the Modest Mouse of Lonesome Crowded West and before--with the Modest Mouse of Johnny Marr, increasingly creaky nautical metaphors, and Big Boi tweeting "Long live the funk." I jumped ship just after Good News, but every erstwhile fan's breaking point will vary (and of course some folks will have stuck with them entirely). And it can be equally hard squaring their wildly chaotic old live shows with the relative professionalism and stadium-ready backing bands of their current gigs. It feels like a totally different band, and yet it feels weirdly the same, like a photocopy, or a theatrical reproduction.
And, of course, that's just me. Opinions are like assholes are like kittens. And maybe I just hit my fullness point with regards to Modest Mouse songs--no more room, no longer craving that particular dish--but I have a feeling I'm not alone on that front. I do wonder, though: How do these songs sound to a kid who just heard Modest Mouse for the very first time this weekend? Or to someone who signed on with them circa Good News? I mean, that's almost certainly the audience they're swinging for now anyway, right?