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The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

This review was first published on CLUAS in 2005
Other albums reviewed in 2005

Modest Mouse

A review of their album 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News'

Modest Mouse 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News'Review Snapshot:
Genius, unadulterated genius. We're blessed, two amazing records in the space of a year, The Arcade Fire's Funeral, and this.

The CLUAS Verdict? 9 out of 10.

Full review:
This is a record of the type that hasn't been heard in a long time. Much too long. On first listen it impresses superficially, a handful of good, well crafted tunes, but nothing amazing. So you put down the record, but you can't shake that niggle, the faint scent of something more intricate. So you give it another chance, and it starts to work its magic, revealing some of its subtleties, another listen sucks you in a little bit more. Now, two weeks later, (virtually on repeat) it still sounds fresh, invigorating and unexplored. There is no other way to describe this album but? charming, and I don't mean that in a quiet sappy way.

To label this album under one specific genre is quite hard, it embraces a large range of styles, somehow managing to breathe originality and inventiveness into the tired old man that rock has too often been exposed to be. In a time when much is made of the apparent 'cyclic' nature of music, the tide and wash of fashion, from the recent 80's revival to the current second coming of Brit Pop, one could be forgiven a certain level of cynicism. Forgiven for thinking that music has adopted the eastern teachings of the 60's and embraced 'The Wheel,' that while each revolution may breathe a certain amount of new life and modernity into the product, the core stays the same? ageing.

Well, thank god this album f**ks up that theory completely.

Good News For People Who Love Bad News is my first introduction to Modest Mouse. I heard the name mentioned with reverence when I was in the States a few years back, but pretty much forgot about them until recently. This album is of an attitude that bands such as Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips and more recently The Arcade Fire have come to define. Yet it manages to be more complete than Deserter's Songs, more broad reaching than Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, hell, I think I even prefer it to Funeral.

'Horn Intro - World At Large' starts the album off smoothly, introducing a catchy, almost opiate popiness and a lilting melody. Good tune, but not hugely ground breaking. The next two songs are where it starts to get interesting. 'Float On', the current single, is where Modest Mouse dive into that dirty blues funk, hip shaking and sweaty. It almost sounds like the best that The Republic of Loose could offer, but the organs lift the song from that stereotype, and into something a little more, well brilliant.

It's here that you get the first hint of underlying genius. From here, the album goes in any number of criss-crossing directions, (lullaby, satire, screaming rock to name a few), linked only by the golden thread of genius, before returning for the great final track 'The Good Times Are Killing Me'.

It took me a long time to get a grip on this record, for it to really sink in, but it did, and given half a chance it will do the same for you. I doubt this record will be a huge commercial success, some tunes are just too abrasive on first listen, and I very much doubt Modest Mouse are prepared to whore themselves to MTV. I am sure though that 'Good News For People Who Love Bad News' will become one of those records that crop up over and over again whenever bands start name checking their influences. It will join the likes of Forever Changes and Safe as Milk. It's just too damn creative not to be inspirational.

Look, this record is a work of genius, I can't say any more about it. It's hugely creative, intricate and maybe even imposing at first. Please give it a chance though, I can't recommend it enough.

Now to work through their back catalogue? (fingers crossed).

Daragh Murray

(bullet) To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.