It’s been eight long years since indie rock band Modest Mouse’s last album, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. For those eight long years, fans of the band have wondered not only whether they would record another album, but also, can they keep it going with their brand of philosophical but catchy and enigmatic rock. The band answered these questions when they released their sixth album, Strangers To Ourselves on March 17th.
Our first taste of the album presented itself in first single Lampshades On Fire. A straight-forward but intricate epic, it is one of the most anticipated tracks of recent memory, and it doesn’t disappoint. Everyone likes a song they can hum to, and here the bridge gives them an eloquent, “ba-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da we’re all going, we’re all going to Hell”. It’s a great song with diverse instrumentation and sporadic changes, starting with an organ and exploding into a full-force indie rock party anthem. Sure, it’s no The World At Large, but Modest Mouse has shown the ability over the years to excel at both sweet fuzzed out indie and loud party jams.
One of the highlights of Strangers to Ourselves is the Talking Heads-esque The Ground Walks With Time In A Box. At over six minutes in length, it somehow takes advantage of every second, with a frenetic pace and driving guitar. Another standout is the haunting Of Course We Know. It’s a slow builder with fuzzed out vocals and gorgeous harmonies.
The album begins, however, with the title song, a rather quaint and quiet offering, featuring a violin. It could pass off as the slow dance number at a hipster wedding.
Strangers To Ourselves is a solid album and definitely worth a spin. However, if you were hoping all that time off was put to creating a genuine masterpiece or even something of a departure from their usual sound, you would be disappointed. Listening to the record feels like listening to any other of Modest Mouse’s most recent records: a little bit of outlandishness, a little bit of quiet indie fare.