Monday, January 01, 2007

Modest Mouse - Dashboard

Well, here it is, the first single from the upcoming Modest Mouse album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The album was originally slated for a December release but now appears to have been pushed back to March. "Dashboard" debuted on Seattle radio station 107.7 The End on New Year's Eve, and this is a recording of that premiere. The quality leaves something to be desired, but hey... it's new Modest Mouse! (It definitely beats live recordings if you ask me.) This album will, of course, be the band's first release with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr contributing in the songwriting department. It does seem like a bit of a new direction for them... what do you think, can you hear the Marr influence?

17 comments:

Tebs said...

I’m a modest mouse fan, not a critic, so bear with me as I try and use my profound powers of deduction, leaping onto this leak of their single with panther like reflexes. I’m no fat cat, on my fat-cat chair, smoking my big fat-fat-cat cigar, like all you music critics, who are obese. No…I just like my voice, and want to explain my emotions of this “new sound” to other unconvinced retiring rodents.
You can’t blame poor Isaac, he’s not had much luck in the world before now, with his bleak past etc, but that all seemed to change with the success of Float On, a success which equalled money, and money is pretty good for getting wasted, stoned etc. (You and me know Mr Brock wont put it into a High Interest Savings account). And having tasted this success…it feels like, he may, just like I would if I had been poor in my past, be trying to tap into this rich vein of….richness.
Ok, I’m blathering, maybe I want to secretly be a fat cat music critic (plz gief job) and am doing vocabularalstuff to impress. But bear with me, cause I got the beginning and ending of this review whilst in the bath, thinking it was the cleverest thing ever (don’t skip to the end, in hindsight, it didn’t quite work when I thought about it), listening to the live and studio versions of dashboard ontop of each other, smoking the ‘erb. And now, quite offensively sober, I am attempting to bulk up this review (read dull musings). The fact is…Isaac, and modest mouse have changed their tone. Yes, they do this every album, I am well aware, but, perhaps I’m getting old (I’m not…I use t’internet) but I don’t like this change. It feels more like the MM crew (see….I’m not old…crap I meant ‘cru’) has taken a bunch of anti-depressants. On the face of it, it seems cheerful and fun and so forth, yet it is so empty, so devoid of it’s character. It just feels forced.
Lets look at the lyrics. I love Brock’s lyrics. They’re clebur. Witness the marvels that are ‘The universe is shaped ‘xactly like the Earth/ If you go straight and long enough you end up where you were’, ‘They got the land but we’ve got the view’ and ‘Doing the cockroach, yeah. Doing the cockroach, yeah.’ Sure, they admittedly get less profound as you look through the meagre list offered by my memory (blames the ‘erbs), leaving aside the jokey theme, there are fantastic lyrics in some of the older Modest Mouse songs. So listening to this new song, I did the same. I tried to leave myself and visualise the lyrics. They went something like this:

“Mate, your dashboard has melted”
“F**k, what do I do?”
“Well, I wouldn’t worry. You’ll have to guess your average speed, and fuel consumption. It may also be rather unsafe, but you are a bit of a rocker, you love all that danger. So the good news, (FPWLBN ;) ) is that the radio is fine.
“Thank the lord! That is great, cheers’
“Yeah, but it would’a been…could’a been…jeese, worse than you would ever know!”
“Ahh, wow….I’m pretty lucky then, I love fresh air so it’s no biggie, Cheers mate!”

Ok, I was reading into those lyrics a bit deeper than perhaps I should have…so let’s backtrack. Honestly? The dashboard has melted….has faded away…All of the complex and interwoven loveliness of the guitars and so on (yeah, told yo, I’m no music critic!) has faded…all the complexities on that board full of dashes have gone, the lyrics simplified, (he’s driving an aeroplane, OK?). But don’t worry, because they have cashed in on a radio-ready sound, that anyone can enjoy, or…spend money on! Yeah, it is a new sound. Yeah, some people will love it. As much as I try to dislike it, I can’t, I really can’t. As much as I try to, by shouting at my headphones ‘NO! You’ve changed! I… I can’t…love you anymore!” creating some strange looks from my fellow passengers on the bus, I still end up offering, “But…we can still be friends”.
I bet you guys are loving my imagery, but nah, that actually really happened. Luckily I’m a pretty ugly bloke and do lots of daft things.
Like writing this review before the album is out, before the clear, better-quality bit-rate version is released on the 22nd of January. And ‘Good News’ had some good tracks, despite them going a tad commercial (I’m not bothered about this happening, I just don’t want stupid people liking Modest Mouse….they’re mine! All mine! My largely undiscovered ball of awesome), so there is still hope, I for one can’t wait for the proper version of Fire it up. But even on the live version, it sounded repetitive, with no real soul. Dramamine, perhaps my favourite track contrasts to this new sound. This scary new sound. It doesn’t lean toward chant-y choruses that pop up all the time, as if pandering for a school-girl fans gathering, all chanting the lyrics together into hairbrushes…trying on different…sorry! Forgot you were there! But yes! Dramamine, and so many other songs have so many different pockets, where the songs fluidly move, like jelly, but less rigid than jelly, more like sugary cream. There was a chance for Dashboard to do this. You know where….in that lull, the quiet part. But no. Straight back to the same song, the same tune, as if their attempting to broaden their appeal to a wider audience means that their songs mustn’t be *too* creative, lest the poor muppets get left behind.
I still like it, and I’m sure it will be much like marmite, within a few weeks I’m sure I will love, or hate it. But as I’m seeing people stop reading, I will leave you with this last piece of imagery. This song is like Bjork got bored of her current sound, took bare (English cool word for ‘lots’. There is dramatic irony in this statement, because ‘the cupboard is bare’ normally means nothing is there. But…glass half full or half empty? Makes no sense? Shut up, that’s what!) testosterone pills, developed Brock’s voice, turned to a funky disco, and made this song. That wasn’t imagery. That was me being an idiot.

Anonymous said...

This was a long read for someone with nothing to thing about

Anonymous said...

It's their 1st single. Its not supposed to be deep or meaningful, its supposed to sell records.

Ed said...

Tebs, my man, u should be a godamn critic... as levelheaded an apparisal of a song i ve seen. Plus fucking hilarious too. still its their first single, the rest of the album could be amazing, who knows?????? certainly not me. GOODBYE!

JWiles said...

Somehow, I've been endowed with a live version of the new album and although it is of rough quality there is a great deal of promise for the typical modest mouse fan. As a fan of several years, I was curious to see if they would continue on the path of polished catchy hooks such as those in Moon and Antarctica & Good News... Other older indie bands also seem to be heading in this direction. However, for me, We Were Dead.. is somewhat of a return to an original Modest Mouse sound. "Fire it up" has a very distinctive sound reminiscent of Long Drive... or other mid 90's recordings. In all, I think the brevity of the album leaves me wanting more but I'm just glad to hear something new from his genius, Isaac Brock.

Anonymous said...

Nice post tebs. I agree with you on a lot of your points. What strikes me most about this single is it's immediate catchy-ness. Lets be honest with ourselves here, its rockin. But for all intents and purposes I could have been listening to Franz Ferdinand . Little of what grabbed me and pulled me in on The Lonesome Crowded West and then made me fall in love with them with Good News remained in this new purple velvet draped single. I don't know. Its just not right.

Anonymous said...

umm we saw it coming with GNFPWLBN..
i like how she keeps refering to moon and antartica and good news..
even though moon and antartica was amazing
so was this is a long drive..ect
and interstate 8 and so many other ones
good news wasnt that great
and this new song has scared me
but i havnt heard the album

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of modest mouse and have been for years but right now im not feeling this new single. I know its supposed to sell records but float on which basically made modest mouse "popular" had much more diversity and creativity. I'm hoping that the rest of the album will be as good as all there other stuff and not just to get some extra cash. CANT WAIT

Jew said...

Ok Tebs is an alcoholic, which is why he had such an honest evaluation of this song.buuuut anyways yea this song has a very new frilly ring to it, nothing like the olden days yet i sitll find it wonderful, obviously modest mouse has begun a new phase of there music, but i dont reject it, i acept it and applaud modest mouse for their succeses, I have and always will love u MM, th only band that has stuck with me throught the years

Anonymous said...

I could like this song...but for the overproduction and the one yawn of a drum beat. Jeremiah Green is one of the most creative drummers, ever, who made him do this beat? It boggles the mind, and puts me to sleep. Calvin Johnson and Authentic Jeremiah Green could've made this song decent to pretty good. But...oh well, maybe the rest of the album wont dissapoint.

Anonymous said...

To comment on some comments: I totally disagree that this single is meant to just SELL records. Modest Mouse has worked hard to get where they are and without compromising their music to get there. They are mearly progressing. (any great band does this) You really think they are just making this song to make money??? This is MM you are talking about, not Briteny Spears. So they arent making the same music they were 13+ years ago, but is that what you really want? Im sure YOU all have changed a great deal in 13 years. Like it or dont like it, but dont dislike it just because it doesnt sound exactly like their earlier stuff.

Anonymous said...

yeah ok, so it's missing the classic atonal twang guitar. it sounds similar to "the view" from good news. which i fucking loved. seriously, though, you can't expect bands to pump the same songs forever, or you stop listening to them cuz they never change. catch-22, cuz you'll stop listening to them when they do change. gawd's honest truth - they can do whatever the f**k they want and you'll still buy the album... give them their due. they're probably pretty stoked they finally made it. pre-orders on itunes? yeah, their ship came in. even if the damn thing sank...

Anonymous said...

yeah ok, so it's missing the classic atonal twang guitar. it sounds similar to "the view" from good news. which i fucking loved. seriously, though, you can't expect bands to pump the same songs forever, or you stop listening to them cuz they never change. catch-22, cuz you'll stop listening to them when they do change. gawd's honest truth - they can do whatever the f**k they want and you'll still buy the album... give them their due. they're probably pretty stoked they finally made it. pre-orders on itunes? yeah, their ship came in. even if the damn thing sank...

Tebs said...

Looks like I, the mighty Tebs, was wrong. Very good album.

Get it here: hxxp://www.sendspace.com/file/bidfn1

((change xx to tt))

Anonymous said...

alright, alright, let's all cut the bullshit. maybe your mind isn't well enough to comprehend him, but isaac has gotten much wiser with his age and more experience. i'm sure, being a modest mouse fan, you have read some of that chinaski shit. now that motherfucker is a good writer, and with age and experience, even money and fame, he grew much wiser and this also seems to be the case with mr. brock. well, see ya.

Anonymous said...

I'm been a fan for a few years, got started with Lonesome, and though there does seem to be some filler, most of the new one is pretty cool. It grows on you, as all Modest Mouse does. There's about five songs on the album that are crap, but they've got a deal now, I understand. As long as there's enough to love, I'm cool. I've grown quite fond of it.

Brandon said...

Tebs, I don't know if you'll read this but you're way off man! The symbolism flew right over your head and you missed the important stuff. The content is a bit light, being a single and all they want it to hit fast and hard.. but what content they have is deep. It's like this:

We're the car. Our dashboard (face) has melted (grown old with wrinkles) BUT we still have the radio (our minds, still full of our own music)

Well we scheme and we scheme but we always blow it, we all get to crash but we still might as well enjoy it. Yeah, don't forget we have to die but don't forget that's what makes this ride so spectacular.

I agree with your general conclusion that success will alter the tune of their music and Isaac's lyrics, but I don't think they're forgetting the real shit just to become famous. Much like everyone else who grows up, we all have very, very hard times. But then with age we realize the hard times become easier to bear, death almost becomes an amusement and after you've hit rock bottom there's no direction to go but up. I mean it could have been, should have been worse than you would ever know.

But it wasn't.