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Modest Mouse:: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (Album Review)

Their last album may have given them a certifiable radio hit, airtime on VH1, and a Kidz Bop tribute, but listening to the follow-up to 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, you might get the sense that the members of Modest Mouse are flinching at the spotlight. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, the group’s fifth full-length release, is denser than its predecessor with tunes that seem willfully harder to penetrate. Even the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to the line-up seems incidental, as Modest Mouse’s off-kilter sound stays largely intact. But keep listening and it becomes obvious that the band hasn’t lost any of his pop bite, especially midway through with a sweep of terrific songs like “Missed the Boat,” “Education” and “Little Motel.” It’s hard to tell if there’s another “Float On” in the bunch. In fact, the first single, “Dashboard,” is one of the weakest Isaac Brock has ever penned. With Shins James Mercer adding lovely vocals to “Florida,” however, it hardly matters.
(Aidin Vaziri)