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CD Reviews: Review of Good News For People Who Love Bad News by Modest Mouse
Paulsen Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Modest Mouse: Good News For People Who Love Bad News (Sony 2004)

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Known mostly for releasing strange but oddly enjoyable music, Modest Mouse hasn’t experienced much commercial success. That changes with the release of Good News for People Who Love Bad News, the band’s sixth and most accessible album. The band’s progress is apparent when listening to each consecutive work, and Good News sounds like a culmination of all that is good and all that can be good about the band’s sound.

Lead singer Isaac Brock doesn’t have the best voice out there – hell, it’s probably not even in the top half. But when he stays within his range, he’s able to sing in an honest, emotional way that most of today’s vocalists should envy. Good News is solid from beginning to end, and even those tracks that could be considered missteps still contain something interesting and catchy. The album begins strong, starting with the pretty “The World At Large,” which – pardon the imagery – drifts along like a cloud through the sky. On “Float On,” Brock drops his gloomy demeanor and puts his heart into the uplifting lyrics that are set against a beautiful melody. Not coincidentally, the song is the band’s first to receive any significant attention from commercial radio.

The optimism continues for a spell on the lovely “Ocean Breathes Salty,” but comes to an abrupt halt when Brock sings, “for your sake I hope heaven and hell are really there / But I wouldn’t hold my breath / You wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste death?” The next two tracks, the rocker “Bury Me With It” and the spastic “Dance Hall,” are reminiscent of the band’s earlier, rougher work, but they still find a way to fit in with the rest of the album. In the terrific “Bukowski,” Brock continues his spiritual quest and asks why God “would want to be such a control freak?” It’s not news that Brock seems depressed, but it is news that he decided to mix his depression with such catchy melodies. For example, during the Talking Heads-ish “The View,” he laments, “if it takes shit to make bliss / Well I feel pretty blissfully”. The cynical “Black Cadillacs,” the uplifting “One Chance” and the regretful “The Good Times Are Killing Me” bring the album to a strong and emotional conclusion.

One song that didn’t make the Good News cut is “I’ve Got It All (Most)” which is available for download. They should have made room for this beauty but, in the end, Modest Mouse still delivered one of the best albums of 2004.

If Good News was your introduction to Modest Mouse, you might also enjoy the following selections from their earlier works (in chronological order):

1. Dramamine
2. Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
3. Space Travel Is Boring
4. Lounge (Closing Time)
5. Ohio
6. Bankrupt on Selling
7. Convenient Parking
8. Heart Cooks Brain
9. Out of Gas
10. Polar Opposites
11. Trailer Trash
12. Long Distance Drunk
13. Karma’s Payment
14. The Waydown
15. Paper Thin Walls
16. Gravity Rides
17. 3rd Planet
18. Dark Center of the Universe
19. Wild Packs of Family Dogs 

~John Paulsen 


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