Modest Mouse Lonesome Crowded West

[Up; 1997]

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


Lonesome Crowded West is a perfect example of classic Modest Mouse. It is the album that best defines the band. It represents all that they stand for to the majority of their fans. A year and a half after the release of an impressive debut full-length album, This is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About, Isaac Brock reaches a creative peak in his songwriting (which has certainly not diminished to this day) and proves to the music world that he is more than just a clever, quirky, emo rock musician.

Below the surface of every lisped word, every biffed guitar line, every late drum hit, shines the intelligence of Modest Mouse, becoming increasingly more noticeable, and counteracting the initial impression of them as simply trailer trash indie rockers. The lyrics on Lonesome Crowded West coincide with the name of the album. They display a wide variety of anger, shame, playfulness, subservience, isolation, alcoholism, religious confusion, commercialism, corruption, and self-destruction, all thrown onto one paper plate, stirred around with a plastic fork, and molded into one man's abstract history lesson about the downfall of Western Civilization. (Hopefully that sparked an interest for ya.)

Although Modest Mouse albums tend to be longer than most (averaging about 15 and 1/3 songs per album), they contain enough variation for the listener to get through the whole thing without getting bored. But there are a few spots on the album where it tends to drag a bit. Songs like "Convenient Parking" and "Long Distance Drunk" can get slightly repetitive. And during the long outro to "Trucker's Atlas", it's tempting to press that track-forward button, in favor of skipping on to the drunkard's pop theme "Polar Opposites". But don't worry, there's plenty of entertainment and variation to help make this album one of your favorites.

The eerily nice and hauntingly soothing acoustic numbers such as "Bankrupt on Selling", "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child", and "Styrofoam boots" provide the necessary amount of relief from the pounding exhilaration of tracks like "Shit Luck", "Teeth Like God's Shoeshine", and "It's All Nice on Ice".

The rest of the songs fit perfectly in between. At times you are forced to wonder "why did they keep this?", or "why'd they do that?", or my favorite, "what the fuck is he talking about?" But be patient. Just nod your head and tap your feet...your mind will catch up sooner or later.

1. Teeth Like God's Shoeshine
2. Heart Cooks Brain
3. Convenient Parking
4. Lounge (Closing Time)
5. Jesus Christ Was an Only Child
6. Doin' the Cockroach
7. Cowboy Dan
8. Trailer Trash
9. Out of Gas
10. Long Distance Drunk
11. Shit Luck
12. Truckers Atlas
13. Polar Opposites
14. Bankrupt on Selling
15. Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice,...