Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News
Record Label: Epic Records
Release Date: April 6, 2004
Modest Mouse's 2004 release, Good News For People Who Love Bad News finds the band in a new era of their career. Absent is the surplus instrumentation of The Moon & Antarctica and present is a leaner yet no less graceful statement of life and all it entails. While this quality makes such reflective tracks as "Alone Down There" or "The Cold Part" hard to spot, they are hidden a little deeper in the bright notes that litter the album.
Ever as Isaac been one to sing of traveling and finding one's self, and that is what the marauder of "The World At Large" is attempting (I like songs about drifters/Books about the same/They both seem to make me feel a little less insane). The track is also a testament to the more focused nature of the album and it is obvious that the "Dramamine" mindset is nowhere to be found. It seems that to a long Modest Mouse fan, that would spell disappointment. So it might, yet it is clear the Brock has not lost his touch for writing relatable lyrics and the band is able to compose music which makes the most capable of indie rock artists cower.
"Float On" and "Ocean Breathes Salty" seem to be a natural pair and there is really no need to cite their words here. At this point, you should have at least heard "Float On" once, and those who enjoyed the pop sensibility displayed on that track will find "Ocean Breathes Salty" more than enjoyable. I may even venture to say that "Salty" is a rather more enticing journey through life and death and how religion touches it. One thing is clear; Isaac does not hold much stock by the good book.
Up next we have "Dig Your Grave" and if there was one thing that bothers me about this album, the use of needless interludes would have to be it. The tracks "Horn Intro", "Dig Your Grave" and "Interlude (Milo)" all seem to scream of pretension. "Horn Intro" itself is reprised later and one can't help feel if producer Dennis Herring was a bit too into the "indie rock bullshit" to quote Isaac himself. Indeed, the talking in front of the album's closing track may have been more commonplace on the record had the Isaac not stepped up and said no.
"Bury Me with It" comes and goes and almost gets lost between the powerhouse of tracks two through four and the passionate "Dance Hall". Appropriate for a song about the quick rise and fall of today's trends, specifically rock bands (Well, fads they come and they go/And God, I love rock and roll/Well, the point was fast but it was too blunt to miss). "Dance Hall" finds a nice home amongst the quirkiest of Modest Mouse tunes and really that is all that can be said for "Dance Hall" other than the fact that a techno mix would make a great club song (Am I joking?).
The next tune "Bukowski" is dedicated to the late Charles Bukowski himself and is a strikingly pessimistic out view on life but that is to be expected here with a Bukowski and Brock combination. Brock himself picked up the banjo for this album and it is utilized here to perfection. So begins the more rustic songs Modest Mouse has ever composed.
The next song is the ingenious This Devil's Workday which comes off as a frightening and gloomy expedition. At this point, Brock's nihilistic exploration is a tad tedious yet the ugly brass horns seem to warrant it. In the end, looking for cheerfulness (even in "Float On") is rather vain. In short, Brock is "his own damn God".
"The View" is quite possibly one of the best songs on the album. The tune criticizes science and its supposed great advancements for mankind. Isaac states "For each invention, how much time did we save? We're no better off than when we were in the cave?" Brock's guitar play, Judy's thumping bass and Green's rolling drum work create an almost mechanical atmosphere which contrasts well with the inspired content.
The insane "Satin in a Coffin" is somewhat the better half of "This Devil's Workday". Indeed, "Satin in a Coffin" might have made a good replacement for that song. Hell, "I've Got it All(most)" might have fit better in its place.
Next enters "Interlude (Milo)" which I have already revealed to be unnecessary. "Blame it on the Tetons" emerges with the air of "Trailer Trash" yet lacking in the same flair. Rest assured, those fearful of a blissful Isaac should feel safe. In knowing that, "Blame it on the Tetons" seems to be the object of blame itself. Brock can't seem to pull himself out of writing material which transmits feelings of melancholy. Even the music itself is somber and that breaks the trend on Good News. It breaks it in a jarring way and seems out of place.
"Black Cadillacs" is a personal favorite. It is playful and lighthearted (and there's piano!). The song seems to spell out the sometimes strenuous nature of relationships yet I've hardly met a song which does it in such a carefree way. It's as if someone turned Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? into a musical.
"One Chance" precedes "The Good Times Are Killing Me" and somehow I imagine that it would have made a better album closer. The lyrics themselves speak of endings (We have one chance/One chance to get everything right). In many ways, this song embodies the album's expectations for a lackluster life. Indeed, Brock himself would be surprised if one doesn't screw up royally at least once in their life (I've seen so many ships sail in/Just to head back out again and go off sinking).
Frankly, "The Good Times Are Killing Me" is the quintessential example of "indie rock bullshit". From its absurd "Don't You Evah"-esque opening to its last "…good times are killing me" chant. Worst of all that may be the very exact point it is cheekily making.
In general, Good News for People Who Love Bad News is good news for any self respecting fan of great alternative rock music. Although a redundant composition rears its ugly head on occasion (cough, "This Devil's Workday", cough), the album is more than worthy of its Grammy nomination and critical praise. Still, a little less cynicism would be welcome every once and awhile.
This review is a user submitted review from nineinchsin. You can see all of nineinchsin's submitted reviews here.
saw the "modest..[read more]" on the front page and shit myself because i thought a new ep was coming out or something... nope.
good album anyways, definitely not my favorite, but not the worst by far. i like their older sound a lot more though, A Long Drive era shit, you know?