Modest Mouse: No One’s First, And You’re Next

Music Reviews Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse: No One’s First, And You’re Next

The house that Mouse built

There’s also a representative sample of the band’s forays into sonic weirdness, like the rockabilly sea-shanty hybrid “King Rat”. The methodical “Perpetual Motion Machine” plays like a dystopic big-band cacophony of groaning brass and clacking cowbells as Brock moans that “everyone wants to be a perpetual motion machine / we all try harder as the days run out”. The EP’s 33-minute runtime spans years of musical growth; it’s a schizophrenic skein of musical threads in which each track stands on its own merits. More importantly, it’s proof positive that the nail-biting about “going mainstream” is unfounded. Modest Mouse is the same surreal upstart it’s always been: ever ready to defy conventions—especially its own.

No One’s First kicks off with radio-bait “Satellite Skin”, a country-tinged rocker that plays on the point-counterpoint between Isaac Brock’s quavering vocals and a plodding guitar riff. Though the track lacks the immediacy of previous singles, the muted pace offers space for melancholic rumination that resolves into devastating release: “Just like being my own solar system / doing good things but then totally eclipse them / oh what’s the use oh what the hell”. Brock further levies his barbaric yawp on the manic Good News throwback “Guilty Cocker Spaniels” and fuzzed-out space jam “History Sticks to Your Feet”, asking existential questions and offering ripostes of piercing ennui in the same breath.

Modest Mouse’s crossover superstardom is something of a misnomer. For all the much-deserved acclaim and assays at catchy songwriting seen since 2004’s breakout LP Good News For People Who Love Bad News, there’s been nary a deviation from their brand of idiosyncratic introspection. So it goes with No One’s First, And You’re Next, an eight-song EP of already-released material poached from their last two albums’ recording sessions. Like previous B-side collections Building Nothing Out of Something and Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks the material provides an illuminating—if hodgepodge—account of the band’s sonic trajectory.

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