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Modest Mouse brings 'Good News' with latest release

April 12, 2004

There are a few things music fans can rely on consistently: a Rolling Stones tour until 2020, a new MP3 downloading program to whet their illegal music palette, the local Best Buy being out of popular discs during a sale and Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock's apparent fear of death.

With last week's release of "Good News For People Who Love Bad News," rumors swirled (among people who hadn't downloaded the album) that the Washington musician might have lightened up. Certainly, "Float On," the disc's phenomenally catchy and upbeat first single, is still in constant rotation on WDBM (88.9-FM). With lyrics such as "Bad new comes, don't you worry even when it lands/Good news will work its way," optimism, sunlight and a bounce in the step of listeners were the new accessories for the normally moody, West Coast scene.

But fear not. Brock's fear hasn't disappeared.

The bulk of the disc continues to shed light on the paranoia Brock cultivated in lyrics and sound in 2000's "The Moon & Antarctica," but with a harder sound more familiar to the band's 1997 release, "Lonesome Crowded West." Much to their credit, the group continues to be musically astounding, including horns from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and a far wider range of music styles.

"Bury Me With It" holds an angry, guitar-driven sound, while "Blame It On The Tetons" uses nearly whispered vocals and an acoustic and piano combination to keep the album's theme going. "This Devil's Workday" draws on swing-style brass and the roughest vocals Brock has ever uttered to scare the listener into remembering each of his or her own sins. One of the album's strongest traits is the continual use of lyrical and musical themes to tie the songs - all very unique - into a package that warns of what could come after death, while showing that there are still some good points in life. The album defies your skipping a single track, even if you don't really dig the electric sound on "The View" or warning tone in "One Chance." Doing so would mean missing part of the story or skipping an emotion.

The album is an obvious and immaculately executed next step for Modest Mouse. Good news for people who love bad news, perhaps, but it's great news for people who love good music.

Suggested listening: When you've got the feeling that inner peace might stem from a steady beat.

If you liked this, you also might like: Modest Mouse's "The Moon & Antarctica" or Isaac Brock's side project, "Ugly Casanova"


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