After becoming famous for songs like “Float On” and “Dashboard,” Modest Mouse, led by frontman Isaac Brock, has returned to the industry and fans’ eager ears following an eight-year hiatus with the album “Strangers to Ourselves.”
Before even playing the music of Modest Mouse’s sixth album, it is obvious that the group has not lost the creative and in-your-face flair they are known for. The album art is insanely mesmerizing in its design, and if you bought the physical edition, the lyric book can keep you occupied for a solid length of time.
Opening “Strangers to Ourselves” is the title track which is haunting and calming at the same time. Brock beckons the listener to hear his proclamation of “How often we are confused,” and “How honestly we have tried but will forget, we’ll forget.” This moves triumphantly into “Lampshades on Fire,” currently the most popular single on the album.
This song truly captures what the band is all about: manic yet groovy vocals and instrumentations. Brock rapidly describes the ventures of partyers as the song progressively gets more morbid and even more intense. Strange keyboard sounds accompany the distinctive rifts of guitar and bass that make the song approachable but also equally intriguing. After a few seconds of air time, you will want to take the entire listen.
To juxtapose a track like “Lampshades on Fire,” the band has really put its writing to good use in a thoughtful song called “Coyotes.” With a social conscience that directly and figuratively touches on a lot of the world we live in, Brock’s voice takes a different turn this time. It is more akin to a lullaby which is a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the album.
That being said, the majority of “Strangers” is amazing and definitely suits listeners of alternative rock. Some of the songs, including “Pistol,” may be a bit too weird for the average music-lover. But others, like my personal favorite piece “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box,” can make anyone want to dance and sing along, even with the explicative or suggestive lyrics that are not overly used, but rather add to the deep nature of the album.
The forced tone of all the lyrics just suits this band’s desired sound to a tee, as each and every song hits hard in different ways. “Ansel” tells the true story of Brock’s brother dying in a mountain accident, and “Of Course We Know” relates a present crisis where ignorance permeates society.
The lyrics are always poetic, calling in seemingly almost every song for some kind of social change, including a strong environmental message that is most obviously prevalent in “God is an Indian and You’re an ***hole” and “Coyotes.” “Strangers to Ourselves” pricks your brain if you truly listen while also providing the undeniably catchy, and sometimes raunchy in delivery, music.
Modest Mouse’s latest album is a tour de force for those who relish in the weird, the profound and experimentation in melody and writing. All of “Strangers to Ourselves” is joined together by common themes and the disturbingly awesome music the band is known for.