One of the most hotly anticipated albums in recent years finally arrived last week, with the release of Modest Mouse‘s sixth studio LP Strangers to Ourselves, their first since 2007. Unfortunately for them, the band’s 8 year hiatus has only added to the uncontrollable sense of hype surrounding their latest release, and while Strangers to Ourselves certainly has its moments, it’s difficult to emphatically say that it was worth the wait. Not aided by the conversation in the interim period since their last record – rumours of wacky collaborations and countless presumptions over what new direction the band would take – the undeniable reality remains that Modest Mouse have spent the last 8 years producing something far too customary to generate any kind of an impact. There are, of course, some very interesting elements on display. The alluring Americana rhythm on ‘Shit In Your Cut’, the brash, alternative hip-hop on ‘Pistol’ and the serene, folk-like melody on ‘Coyotes’ all contribute to a strong opening half, but this implied freshness regrettably wears thin as the band begin to revert back to previous blue-prints. Sprightly, yet entirely pedestrian numbers like ‘Ansel’, ‘Be Brave’ and single release ‘Lampshades On Fire’, (as typical a Modest Mouse track as you’ll ever hear) sound broadly generic, while even the pantomime, ‘Rain Dogs’ quality of ‘Sugar Boats’ harks back to some of the more outlandish tracks originating on the last two albums. It is disappointing, as the mass appeal of the band’s 2004 mainstream break-out Good News for People Who Love Bad News was rooted not only in its delectable indie grooves and zippy melodies, but also in its sheer sense of zaniness and unpredictability. Sadly for Modest Mouse, these elements just don’t figure enough on here, and throughout its 57 minutes running time, Strangers to Ourselves never feels particularly inventive or substantial. An opportunity missed by one of indie rock’s most vaunted artists.
by James Glynn / March 20th, 2015 /
Modest Mouse — Strangers to Ourselves