Modest Mouse formed the year I was born, and I spent the subsequent years following that event listening to their music and lying on whatever mattress was on my floor from age seven on.
My favourite album title is “Good News for People Who Love Bad News.” One of my favourite actual albums is The Moon And Antarctica, so it’s hard for me to talk about Modest Mouse without being biased in regards to stupid things like FEELINGS and EMOTIONS. Regardless, I suppose I owe a full disclosure: My love affair with Strangers To Ourselves is somewhat more about my memories than it is about the actual music, although I will discuss the music at large, at some point, somewhere.
Strangers To Ourselves is Modest Mouse’s first release in eight years, after the band went on hiatus and presumably fell off the face of the earth in regards to recording music. However, despite multiple lineup changes in the past and the introduction of some new elements in their music, Strangers To Ourselves doesn’t sound too different from the quality indie rock that Modest Mouse is known for presenting.
Admittedly, the first time I heard it, I hated it. Perhaps I was scared to love it, or I was too excited, and all of my emotions at once got the better of me. My God, I thought. This is terrible. What do I do?
And then I listened to it again. And again. And then I listened to it on a drive with my best friend, and then I realized that Strangers To Ourselves, like any Modest Mouse album, is genius and beauty wrapped up in a box labelled “good indie rock” and sent to my 12-year-old self. “Sugar Boats” really brought it all home for me– the almost nautical-sounding ballad really got me going and sent all those “lying down on my roof” memories floating back. After “Sugar Boats,” I also really loved “Pistol,” “Be Brave,” and “Shit In Your Cut,” so, pretty much, the songs that sounded the most like what Modest Mouse was back in 2004 or so. That being said, their sound hasn’t changed much– I feel as though the band has, despite the leave of absence and changing members, remained true to what it wanted to be upon formation.
Still, I like when bands don’t change their sound much. I’m neurotic, and change freaks me out. A band maturing and changing the way they function in order to show their personal growth? Absolutely not. Cater to my 16-year-old tastes forever.
You know that feeling you get after you’ve spent the day at the amusement park riding roller coasters? And you’re lying in bed and you swear you can still feel the spinning whenever you close your eyes? Well, that’s what hearing this album made me feel like. But only the second time around.
Modest Mouse have never done a bad album. I don’t believe they’ve ever really done a bad song, and I’m delighted that I love Strangers To Ourselves now, that once again, they’ve delivered, on a silver platter, an album with not only a great title, but where not a single song is one that I want to skip over.