23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Takes some time to work its magic,
This review is from: The Moon & Antarctica (Audio CD)
I bought this CD a few months ago on a whim, just to find out what the buzz was about. I figured that a CD with almost twenty tracks on it had to have something I would like somewhere in there. And as it turns out, I was right.
There is a lot that makes Modest Mouse unusual, from this newbie's perspective. Isaac Brock's voice takes some getting used to, for one thing. He sounds damaged, vulnerable, innocent, almost childlike sometimes, and although you wouldn't think those qualities would add up to a good singer, his style really works when the music and lyrics are right.
"3rd Planet," the album's opener, is one of the songs I liked immediately. It's self-effacing, introspective, reflective, and maybe just a little sad. As far as I can tell from the lyrics, "3rd Planet" is about a couple who chooses to have an abortion. Not a pretty subject, but we don't just listen to music to feel good. "Gravity Rides Everything" works well too, feeling like the theme song for an extended, weary road trip.
Another moody track is "The Cold Part." Violins, acoustic guitar, and a loping drumbeat serve as the backdrop to a failing relationship. Initially this song seems almost comical in its gloom, but there is a thoughtful sincerity to it, completely devoid of irony, that makes you reconsider. "The Stars Are Projectors" alternates between loud and soft sequences with more or less the same underlying sentiment of solitude and loss.
There are some moments on The Moon and Antarctica that fall a bit flat, or are just too languid for their own good, but for the most part the album has a cohesive, mournful feel to it that really "works" and makes Modest Mouse distinctive. Occasionally this is conveyed with humor (such as with the disco thump of "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"), but for the most part The Moon and Antarctica uses long, meandering songs with brief stabs of guitar-and-drum catharsis to bleed out the pain. The imagery of planets and stars -- already heavily suggestive of isolation and extreme cold -- helps keep the songs together thematically, and provides a tangible environment for the drama to play out.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I bought this album, but I can definitely say I am happy with it.