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We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

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Audio CD, March 20, 2007
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We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank + Good News for People Who Love Bad News [Vinyl] + Strangers to Ourselves
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Product Description

We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank is a new chapter in Modest Mouse's career with the new infusion of Johnny Marr and the extra percussion muscle brought by Plummer and Peloso. The new album features several songs that the band played live during their 2-week-long sold-out runs in LA and NY, including the instant radio hit ''Dashboard.''

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Their last album may have given them a certifiable radio hit, airtime on VH1, and a Kidz Bop tribute, but listening to the follow-up to 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, you might get the sense that the members of Modest Mouse are flinching at the spotlight. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, the group's fifth full-length release, is denser than its predecessor with tunes that seem willfully harder to penetrate. Even the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to the line-up seems incidental, as Modest Mouse's off-kilter sound stays largely intact. But keep listening and it becomes obvious that the band hasn't lost any of his pop bite, especially midway through with a sweep of terrific songs like "Missed the Boat," "Education" and "Little Motel." It's hard to tell if there's another "Float On" in the bunch. In fact, the first single, "Dashboard," is one of the weakest Isaac Brock has ever penned. With Shins James Mercer adding lovely vocals to "Florida," however, it hardly matters. --Aidin Vaziri


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000MRA4WK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,552 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Zen Station on March 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I have to say that while I found the band's last album, "Good News.." to be a slight disappointment, I didn't think it sounded like a sellout at all. It was much more quirky than the typical records out there, and even some of the more trendy music out at the time. And while the band's most accessible album to date, "Ship" is 100% a Modest Mouse record. Even with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr now in the fold, even when Shin James Mercer does background vocals. And while it's also clean produced like the last one, that doesn't mean it's over-polished at all.

Of course, there's people who will try and insult people who like this new stuff, and there'll be a few mainstream sheep who decide it's good because the masses told them. But let's get realistic: Modest Mouse have been on a major label since 2000's "The Moon & Antarctica." (The album that introduced me to the band.) Them taking steps to commercial steps was inevitable from there. I have no problem with them becoming big. If you like them to stick with the Sonic Youth-type of seven-minute jam-out songs, just stick with "Long Drive" and "The Lonesome Crowded West." This, the new record, does actually have an epic track in it, "Spitting Venom," which starts out raw and acoustic in its first minute and a half but soon builds up from that. It's kind of interesting, as is the rest of the album.

Besides, I can't remember the pump organ and accordion being used so often in pop music as it is on here. There's no real Isaac Brock freak-outs here, but he still is full of personality on here. Also, where the interludes seemed a bit annoying and unnecessary last time, the newly used instruments are now utilized into actual songs! It's a more mature Modest Mouse album, and while consistent, it's never boring.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Dent on March 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Much like Lonesome Crowded West with Teeth Like God's Shoeshine blaring loud and strong at the start, March Into the Sea really kicks off the album, and is one of the best on the album. The rest of the album doesn't let up.

Frankly, I don't see where people get selling out. In my mind, they've simply been progressing forward. Each album explores a different sound, and in each album that sound gets exhausted. If they continued to use any one album's sound, we would all complain they have no innovation and all their songs sound the same. (look at Mechanical Birds and the end of Polar Opposites...a third and thats what we all would be thinking)

With that over, I've listened to this album a couple times, and with each listen get into it more. Modest Mouse is one of those bands you need to keep listening to, you can't expect to "get" them on the first listen. I only liked one or two songs on Lonesome... and now I love them all.

I do think this is more of a return to their older work, not simply a third chapter in what began at Moon & Antarctica and continued with Good News, but it does sound like them with an entirely new one.

Other highlights:

Florida

Missed the Boat

People as Places as People
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jason on May 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Good album that borders on great. I'd say it's a bump up from 'Good News'; just as 'Dashboard' is not nearly as powerful a pop-ballad as the sickeningly popular 'Float On' became to me, 'We Were Dead', as an album in its entirety, regresses from the pop-laden mentality of its older brother, instead pulling out cues from the bands earlier work; i.e. creative, unpredictable, discordant song structure, etc. To be fair, the album is not a work of unparalleled complexity, but it IS complex -- I've never understood the argument that 'Good News'' foray into a more pop-filled musical universe discounted the actual stuff being written (the best pop's as good as anything, in my mind), and I don't understand it because it doesn't make sense -- 'Good News', like this album, still possessed so many of the engrossing musical/personality traits of the entity known as Modest Mouse. Who in the world thinks 'The Moon and Antarctica' was devoid of pop anyway?; need I point you to the first tracks on that album? Right. Oh, and for those who want to try and tell me that Modest Mouse's output pre-Moon was their peak, I say this -- you're wrong; if you want to tell me establishing some sort of lyricism via music and melody over time is a negative, and that retaining a peculiarly "raw" sound that refuses to enter territories known to us already is the only way to go about things...; I say look at how delicately Brock and co., over the years, managed to become more and more evocative; 'The Moon and Antarctica', in its heavier time/spaces, is one of the most poignant, reflective, intimate albums I've heard. And these guys, as far as I know, are a bunch of stoners (gasp!).

Sorry to get off track.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Reus on March 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Every album Modest Mouse puts out is a completely new endeavor and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is no exception. This album has a drifting, lightweight feel similar to that of This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Talk About but with the core of it's imagery carrying a more nautical theme. Isaac Brock's lyrics aren't as heavy, epic, or clever as on previous albums, but there are still moments of brilliance such on tracks like "Parting of the Sensory" where Brock talks of our decomposed and re-consumed bodies after death as "carbon's anniversary" (a metaphor that would take a five-page essay to explain).

The music this time around is extremely accessible, even moreso than their previous album. All of the tracks are produced so immaculately you'd think that they were mixed with shoeshine. This could be a downer for some long-time Modest Mouse fans, as all the grit that defined earlier albums is now officially dead and gone. The up side is that Isaac Brock's vocal performance is the best it has ever been. Gone is the uncontrolled scream-singing of This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Talk About, Isaac has full control now. This is especially evident on March into the Sea where the vocals range from soft and melodious to the growling laugh of a senile pirate. Original drummer Jeremiah Green is back at the helm, but his trademark wild off-kilter snare fills are hard to find. They could be there, but if they are then they are surely overwhelmed by the heavy snare/kick beats that dominate songs such as "Dashboard", "We've Got Everything", and "Education".
There's been a lot of buzz about Johnny Marr joining the group too; however, fans of The Smiths expecting to hear their beloved god of sound back in full form will be sorely disappointed.
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omg
that is good. I really liked moon and antartica, but the last one had some great tunes and some very skippable stuff. I don't mind them being sucessful-they are a creative band. Better them than so much of what is out there. I just don't want weird for weird sake.
Feb 19, 2007 by Russell Chamberlain |  See all 21 posts
i've got it
I have it already too. Sounds more like "lonesome crowded west" and "building nothing" than the newest record which is a good thing in my opinion. I didn't recognize an obvious "anthem" on this record either which I also like. A little less mainstream I guess.... Read More
Feb 21, 2007 by Tate |  See all 14 posts
pretty good
Yeah, exactly.
Jun 10, 2009 by Alex Cox |  See all 2 posts
Johnny Marr?
Those are bold words, and I haven't listened to enough MM to refute them. MM would have to be pretty incredible to come close to what The Smiths achieved in FOUR years in the '80's. And there he wrote ALL the music, not helped, and controlled everything about the sound. As brilliant as Marr... Read More
May 29, 2008 by Joseph M. Romero |  See all 8 posts
SHEERLY AMAZING
I've listened to both.
We were dead moved me more.
Yep.
Aug 10, 2009 by Christie Macpherson |  See all 5 posts
Don't go by the stars for this album!!! Be the first to reply
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