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Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News


Review: Jack Foley

WEIRD indie mavericks, Modest Mouse, have been plying their trade since 1994, but it is only now, off the back of the success of single, Float On, that their quirky style of songwriting and catchy melodies are beginning to find a place in the mainstream.

It's ironic, therefore, that the album should arrive minus the presence of original drummer, Jeremiah Green, who left the band shortly before recording commenced in New Orleans.

But fans of Float On probably won't notice any difference, especially since many will believe this marks something of a debut for the band from Issaquah, Washington.

What is important, is the quality of the music - and when it's good, Good News For People Who Love Bad News delivers some of the tracks of the year so far.

Frontman, Isaac Brock's idiosyncratic lisp and edgy vocal style is perfectly suited to tracks such as Float On and Ocean Breathes Salty which, if anything, surpasses the quality of the current radio favourite.

While the guitar riffs of Dann Gallucci and strong basslines of Eric Judy provide some truly virtuoso moments that leave one pondering why Modest Mouse haven't been discovered before (perhaps the secret lies in the name?).

That said, the quirky, off-kilter style isn't immediately apparent, until track five, Dig Your Grave, when Brock's vocal style seems to splinter somewhat, sounding like the White Stripes on drugs.

For a couple of tracks which follow, you can see why the band have developed their reputation for being indie mavericks, existing just beneath the mainstream's eye, rather than being held in its gaze.

But even then, the banjo, accordion and fiddles which break up some of the guitars and drums make for a refreshing change, almost as though the band became influenced by their New Orleans surroundings.

Of the tracks which don't really work, Dance Hall feels too much like a jamming session gone wild, while the bootleg style of The Devil's Workday leave you pining for the indie style of Ocean Breathes Salty, which seems a million miles away.

But the album gets back on track with The View, which contains the same sort of edgy guitar style that makes the likes of Dogs Die In Hot Cars so darn catchy, while the laidback banjo style of Satin in a Coffin drips Southern-style, complete with a vocal style that would make Mick Jagger green with envy.

Strong, too, are the acoustic Blame It On The Tetons and final track, The Good Times Are Killing Me (which was mixed by Dave Fridmann and The Flaming Lips), which leave the listener with a positive lasting impression.

Good News For People Who Love Bad News may not be as instantly accessible as its lead single suggests, but it does represent an eclectic and refreshing change from the norm which should grab its own headlines come the year end.

Track listing:
1. Horn Intro
2. The World At Large
3. Float On
4. Ocean Breathes Salty
5. Dig Your Grave
6. Bury Me With It
7. Dance Hall
8. Bukowski
9. This Devil's Workday
10. The View
11. Satin In A Coffin
12. Interlude (Milo)
13. Blame It On The Tetons
14. Black Cadillacs
15. One Chance
16. The Good Times Are Killing Me

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