Modest Mouse - Strangers To Ourselves
Album Review

Modest Mouse – Strangers To Ourselves

Modest Mouse have been around for over two decades. Their creation in 1993 spawned a new era for the genre of indie rock, with the band seeing a turning point of success in 2000 with the much loved albums ‘The Moon and Antarctica’ and ‘We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank’ in 2007. Following that, their eight year hiatus from the music industry sadly ends on a bum note with their new comeback album ‘Strangers to Ourselves’ with no spark, little to remember, and most importantly, lacking soul and personality – making the album title sadly fitting; the band have truly become strangers to themselves.

This is a record that, to say the least, does nothing new and the end product simply becomes nothing more than a shame. The album feels chaotic, with songs like ‘Lampshades on Fire’ featuring a shambolic Isaac Brock blurting out “ba-ba-ba” in his well-known raging voice but ultimately falling short of anything interesting. There are so many songs that are simply forgettable on the album, ‘Shit in Your Cut’ being a prime example which could have been an offering from any middle-of-the-road indie rock band desperately seeking to force originality. ‘Pistol’ is simply incredibly awkward, with disco drums and Brock’s singing clashing with the melody of the song so badly it ends up sounding like a wounded animal mewing over a confused and out of place guitar.

The album just about escapes the categorisation of beyond hope with a few tracks that keep its head above the dark and deep waters of complete disinterest and distaste. Brock’s rough voice actually becomes a positive contributor for the first time at points throughout the album, adding a strange charm on ‘The Best Room’, ‘Wicked Campaign’ and ‘Be Brave’ that persuades an irresistible head nod and foot tap to occur.

One thing the album does have is variety; they can have that – every track sounds quite different, but still falls short of standing out. The lyrics are dull and predictable, indifferent from the emotional rollercoaster that their earlier albums offered. Simply put, most of the tracks just don’t matter. It feels like Modest Mouse dumped a collection of weak material here in a completely random order because, maybe, they didn’t have a coherent purpose or lost sight of their goal for the album over the eight years they spent making the tracks.

That variety boils down to all but an illusion when nestled alongside the safe and secure drudgery of the album, which admittedly could be an indicator of the band struggling in its transition as a musical entity. It’s accepted that bands change with the times but this certain ‘transition’, if it can even be called that, is a dud. Settled down with a wife, kids and a mortgage, the new material has moved sideways instead of progressing forward.

Ultimately, Modest Mouse have released a sixth album of mediocrity and recycled catchiness that’s resulted in an anti-climactic return.

– Sasha Hodes

Venue: Strangers To Ourselves
Support Band: Columbia

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