Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
It's not every day that you hear a musician describe their latest opus as 'a nautical balalaika carnival romp' - but then again, Isaac Brock is no ordinary musician, nor are his band, Modest Mouse, an ordinary band. Their extraordinariness has been further bolstered, in fact, by the addition of guitar hero Johnny Marr on this album. Much has been made of Marr's contribution to the Washington band's fifth studio album; and while it's perhaps unfair to discount the previous output of what was already a very good band because of the Smiths legend's legacy, it's clear that his augmentation has reinforced Modest Mouse's sound and songwriting. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank comes in the wake of Brock and co.'s biggest album to date - 2004's 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News' - which also spawned their biggest hit to date, the modern-day indie anthem Float On - and continues MM's successful relationship with producer Dennis Herring. Opener March Into the Sea is a suitable opener - it's a passionate, darkly skewed sea shanty that sees Brock's deep, manic growl give Nick Cave a run for his money. Dashboard, the first single lifted from the album, as well as the first ever Brock/Marr collaboration, is a catchy, brilliantly-constructed college-rock tune that alludes to Talking Heads, while Florida is a kooky, sunny pop tune that substantiates Marr's involvement. The first half of this album is very, very good, with Missed the Boat, We've Got Everything and standout Parting of the Sensory all deserving honourable mentions; however, with fourteen tracks spanning over an hour, what should (and could have been) a concise album and contender for album of the year is ultimately let down by its protractedness and unnecessary filler tracks. Even so, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is wonderful in parts and sees Modest Mouse write some of the best material of their career. The Good Ship Mouse should weather many a storm yet.
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