the moon and antarctica (epic records)
Modest Mouse-the moon and antarctica (epic records)
It's been said that there are three types of good music; the first type you instantly like and lose
interest in after a few weeks, the second you instantly like and never tire of, whilst the third is
those records that on first listen you find plain or even dislike and its only with time that you come
to love them. For these ears, the major label debut from modest mouse fits into the last category.
The moon and antarctica's diverse and multi-layered sound; intricate guitar work, subtle use of
strings, and idiosyncratic sense of dynamics, simply wash right over your confused senses for the
first few listens. But if you stick with it, the musical offerings of this record will eventually
penetrate your ignorant, wax-infested ears allowing your mind to gently absorb its aural beauty like
an arrid aubrietta. After a few plays, you'll begin to notice how the dreamy backing vocals of '
perfect disguise' slowly filter through your unconscious to reside in your soul. Some days later you'
ll wonder how you overlooked the subtle genius of Isaak Brocks' lyrics on your first listen and feel
your life's anxieties fade away as he reassures you that"everything will fall, fall right into place".
Hell, after a couple of weeks listening you'll even be thinking about what a fucking cool sound the
banjo makes, such is the crafty allure of this remarkable record.
Alot of the music press tend to compare modest mouse with the likes of seminal alt rock heroes Pixies and
Pavement. Sure, at times some remnants of Black Francis's infamous squall can be heard in Brocks' voice,
whilst many songs display a pavement-esque penchant for paranoid tempo changes, discordant melodies and"
where'd the chorus go?" song structures. However, musically the mouse sail very much their own ship, and
as the record title suggests, modest mouse aim to take their listeners on a journey into largely
unexplored territory. Nowhere is this demonstrated more aptly than 'the stars are projectors', an epic
nine minute exploration into a dense sonic landscape where backwards guitars, distorted vocals and
reverberating bass lines combine with layers of sparkling piano, understated drumming and dense violins
over (at least) three detectable movements. Elsewhere, songs which start off as innocent laid-back
acoustic ballads manage to somehow seamlessly mutate into abrasive, riff-led nonsense without ever
wandering into a self-indulgent, incoherent mess. Throughout it all, Isaac Brock's lyrics exude a
confusion and ambiguity which stem from his own mind's perverse efforts to rise above its mortal condition
."Was there a need for a creation? That was hidin in a math equation, and that's this" ponders Isaac,
before screaming "My hell comes from inside comes from inside myself". His cynical observations on the
futility of existence might be disconcerting for the listener if it wasn't for a detectable, dark sense of
humour which accompanies them."No ones gonna play the harp when you die" mumbles a humble Isaac on lives,
before suggesting human beings"...ain't made of nothin, nothin but water and shit" on 'what people are
Modest these mice might well be, but their sound is mighty. Quite how they can expect to translate the many
subtle nuances of 'the moon and antarctica' LIVE- as a tiddly widdly 3-piece- remains to be seen. They'll
need an outfit the size of Godspeed you Black emperor! to get anywhere close to faithfully recreating its
sonic density. Regardless, these mousemen can safely kick back, relax, and bury their noses into a quarter
pound of expensive French fromage, safe in the knowledge that they've produced one of the most
accomplished, original and rewarding records of recent time. One which simply deserves to be heard.
Written By: Steven H.