Modest Mouse Good News for People Who Love Bad News

[Epic; 2004]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: rock, indie rock
Others: Built to Spill, 764 Hero, Ugly Casanova

The hype surrounding Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse's second major label effort, has been so thick that it should by all rights suck so bad as to be completely unlistenable. Many fans cringed through the Nissan commercial, the Carson Daly appearance, the general whoring of the band by Sony, and many wondered at the very real possibility that this new album could be the decline of their indie rock heroes -- one of the few major label bands who you can call that and get away with it. The fact that Moon and Antarctica was a distinct departure from their earlier efforts certainly didn't help these die-hard fans either. However, if Moon was two steps away from their classic sound, Good News is one step back, ending up as an amalgamation of all previous efforts. And it's their strongest statement yet.

Sure, it starts off sounding like an indie pop joyride with strings, but after the thirteen second breathy threat that is "Dig Your Grave," the album takes a turn back into their classic dark rock on subsequent song "Bury Me with It." It seems to come straight from the Lonesome, Crowded West era. An early highlight is the song "Bukowski," which is lyrically familiar in that "God is a horrible person if he's real" theme. Once again, classic styles show through here with layered vocals and background echoes. Even the banjo is a perfect accompaniment to Brocks' vocals.

Also interesting to note is that this album may be the first time we see Modest Mouse really showing their influences. "The Devil's Work Day" seems to be a Tom Waits-inspired dirge, and it happens again later with "Blame It on The Tetons," sounding like it could be on a Sparklehorse album. We know Brock has been influenced by Sparklehorse in the past because of the similarity in lyrics on the Ugly Casanova song "Parasites" and Sparklehorse's "Weird Sisters." Regardless, "Blame it on the Tetons," with its blend of acoustic guitar, piano, strings, and crooning lyrics, is one of the most beautiful songs on Good News.

Ultimately, what makes Good News so successful is that it retains the melancholy mood of past works, while at the same time adding depth and maturity with songs like "One Chance" and "The Good Times are Killing Me." Both of the aforementioned songs exemplify how apathy and rebel-rousing of youth gets old and you have to move on. Thankfully, they've matured more like your cool Uncle Bob than your stuffy brother, Phil.

1. Horn Intro
2. The World at Large
3. Float On
4. Ocean Breathes Salty
5. Dig Your Grave
6. Bury Me With It
7. Dance Hall
8. Bukowski
9. The Devil's Workday
10. The View
11. Satin in a Coffin
12. Interlude (Milo)
13. Blame It on the Tetons
14. Black Cadillacs
15. One Chance
16. The Good Times Are Killing Me