Good News For People Who Love Bad News – Modest Mouse

Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Modest Mouse

2004

Epic Records

Modest Mouse are a curious indie rock band. Sure, they might sound like your typical four-piece with spacey, effect-covered vocals, exemplifying all the traits generally found in cut-yourself-and-bleed-all-0ver-your-black-hoodie-and-black-skin-tight-jeans-combo emo music. However, when you look deeper, they actually have more depth, especially lyrically.  They feature six members in the studio (five, technically for this album), and more when on tour. Now, you might be thinking “Hey, that sounds a lot like Arcade Fire,” but you’d be wrong. Modest Mouse doesn’t have sixty-two people banging a drum the size of your mother with one hand, while furiously masturbating to Sarah Michelle Gellar with the other. These guys actually play instruments. Anyways, today we’ll be taking a look into arguably their most accessible record, Good News For People Who Love Bad News.

Good News, like most MM albums, deals with concepts of life and death, but this one deals almost exclusively in it. In his habitual style, leader Isaac Brock uses words associated with those concepts in a metaphorical sense, giving nearly every single line a double meaning. For example, the track “Bury Me With It” seems a reference to people being buried with objects related to their likes in life. However, the song is actually about retaining memories after events, relationships, or even things like adolescence end.  The one major exception is the contrasting “Float On,” which if you haven’t heard, you must’ve been in a coma for all of 2004.  With its “Alright, don’t worry/even if things end up/a bit too heavy/we’ll all float on” mantra, the song stands in direct opposition to others like “Black Cadillacs,” “Dig Your Grave,” “Satin in a Coffin,” and the depressing “Ocean Breathes Salty” (“You wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste the afterlife?”)

Pictured: happy-go-lucky personified.

As is the case, with other of their albums, Brock plays with lots of Biblical and Christian themes. This is interesting, seeing as how he is “100 percent on the whole Christianity thing being a crock of shit, pretty much.” He does a pretty damn good job with them, too. “This Devil’s Workday” describes a series of evil acts being performed by a person, in the same vein that Satan would. The song’s protagonist (can the protagonist be the one who antagonizes? I dunno) also describes himself as “his own damn god,” another reference to the Christian devil. Also, the horn section of this track is just so damn awesome.

There’s a few songs on the record that I think could be done away with or just shortened for improvement. For example, “Dance Hall,” while being a good fit in a musical sense, just lacks any semblance of lyrical depth that I’ve come to expect from these guys (the lyrics are 90% “I’m gonna dance all/Dance Hall everyday”). I’d prefer it to have been replaced by any of the tracks that got cut from the album (they released an EP of them in 2009). Secondly, “Blame it On the Tetons,” while having a warm, mellow sound and some very good lyrics, just seems to go on for too long.

Despite the few drawbacks, I think that Good News is one of Modest Mouse’s best records. It takes the things they did very well on previous records and refines them a bit. I don’t think it’s as good as The Moon and Antarctica, but it comes pretty damn close. I’d definitely recommend it for consideration and if you like the general sound of these guys.

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One Response to “Good News For People Who Love Bad News – Modest Mouse”

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